Four days after the month ended, the pitching hasn't gotten any worse.
Well, outside of Scott Feldman, the pitching hasn't gotten any worse. There haven't been many moments in the last three years when the Astros have been able to say that. A solid rotation and a suddenly lights-out bullpen, though, can go a long way.
You know who's winning this award, but stick around for the honorable mentions and check out some of the stats I ran down on Keuchel.
Credit where credit is due. Houston made a heck of a pickup in Sipp. Though he only pitched 9 2/3 innings for Houston last month, he was perfect. He had a 0.00 ERA in those innings and only gave up two hits and a walk while striking out 13 in that stretch.
Houston's bullpen in April looked like the tire fire from 2013. With additions like Sipp and Farnsworth, things got better in a hurry. Now, Houston's bullpen has been a strength of the team since May 11. Consider this a win not just for Sipp, for all those guys stood out in relief.
May played out a litlle like the 2013 season did for Jarred Cosart. His results (run prevention) were much better than his procedure (peripheral stats). Though his ERA sparkled at 2.76, he had some troubling trends in other places.
For instance, only two other Astros pitchers had higher walk rates than Cosart's 11 percent and those two threw a combined six innings. No other qualified starter in the majors has a higher walk rate than Cosart and only five had higher walk rates in May.
His strikeout rate is also not correspondingly high. Again, of qualified starters, only four in the majors in May had lower strikeout rates than Cosart's. Typically speaking, walking as many guys as you strike out is not a way to continue to be successful.
Are there signs of life for Cosart? Certainly, his 54 percent ground ball rate indicates he's still getting good movement on his fastball. The purpose of this piece is to look at small snapshots of his season, which aren't necessarily predictive of his future. While the peripherals are pointed down, Cosart survived them this month. He also had better strikeout rates in April, which suggests he can bounce back peipherally in June.
This one is a no-brainer. Keuchel has been one of the best pitcher in the majors this year, much less the Astros. He absolutely deserves this award. It's tempting to make this about his season as a whole, since he's been very good. But, let's see how good he was just in May.
Over six starts, Keuchel threw 46 1/3 innings. He's the first Astros pitcher to throw at least 45 innings in a month since Andy Pettitte got to 47 innings in August of 2006. He's also just the third pitcher since 2001 to top the mark. Besides Pettitte, Roy Oswalt went over 45 innings in four separate months over that period. In fact, he did it twice in 2005.
On top of that, Keuchel was just dominant in May. He had a 2.14 ERA, a 66 percent ground ball rate and just seven walks in those 46 innings. His strikeout rate is the only thing that dropped a bit, falling to just below 20 percent for the month. Considering he sat at 24 percent in April, it was a drop. Also considering he sits at 16 percent for his career, he's doing just fine.
Keuchel allowed fewer home runs in May, but he didn't strand an abnormally high number of base runners (LOB%). The only sign that Keuchel could decline dramatically next month is his very tiny .240 BABiP. Considering that only dropped his season BABiP to .277, though, he should be fine next month.