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Dallas Keuchel shut down: Celebrating the season of Houston's bearded lefty

How good was Dallas Keuchel this season?

Bob Levey

Before the season, our robot overlords (ZiPS) decreed that Dallas Keuchel would be a 5.02 ERA pitcher this season, struggling to reach 1.0 fWAR and to top 150 innings pitched.

As you may know, he's done slightly better than that.

Since news broke this weekend that Keuchel will be shut down after topping 200 innings, it's time to take a look back at what the lefty has accomplished this season. He wowed us with his beard and his ERA. He should have been an All-Star. Instead, he just turned in one of the best seasons by an Astros pitcher in quite a while.

  • In topping 200 innings, Keuchel became the first Astros starter at the mark since Brett Myers in 2010 and 2011. He's the eighth pitcher to have at least 200 innings in a season for the Astros since 2000 (Chris Holt, Oswalt, Clemens, Pettitte, Myers, Wandy, Wade Miller).
  • Keuchel's 2.92 ERA means that he's the first Astros starter with enough innings to qualify for the ERA title to post a season under 3.00 since Roy Oswalt in 2006. Roy Boy had a 2.98 ERA in that season. Since 1980, the Astros have only seen 25 such seasons. Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte were the last two qualified pitchers with lower ERAs, combining for a pair of great seasons in 2005.
  • There have only been 30 seasons in franchise history where a pitcher topped 200 innings and had an ERA under 3.00. Keuchel joins Denny Lemaster, Mike Cuellar, Dave Roberts, Mike Hampton and Andy Pettitte as the only lefties on that list.
  • If we add walks to the mix, Keuchel's season becomes even more rarified. Only 10 seasons have been turned in with 200 or more innings, an ERA less than 3.00 and a BB/9 rate of 2.2 or less. Oswalt did it in 2006 and 2005, along with Pettitte in '05 and Mike Scott did it in 1988. The others on the list are Joe Niekro, Larry Dierker, Mike Cuellar, Bob Bruce and Ken Johnson.
  • Because it's hard to put ERA into context with the inflated numbers of the juiced ball era and the tall pitching mound in the '60s, ERA+ can be a better determinant for how good a pitcher did, as it adds league context to the mix. Keuchel's 134 ERA+ was 19th-highest in Astros history among pitchers who threw at least 200 innings.
  • Keuchel's five complete games this season were the most by an Astros starter since Mike Hampton had seven in 1997.i It's just the fifth time in the last 20 years that an Astros pitcher has had five or more complete games in a single season.
  • Last Astros pitcher with an OPS+ of 85 or less? Oswalt in 2006. Any way you slice it, Keuchel had the best pitching season of any Astros since Oswalt that season.
  • Going league-wide, only four pitchers in the majors this season threw 200 or more innings with an ERA+ of 134 or better and an OPS+ of 85 or lower. They include Cleveland's Corey Kluber, Seattle's King Felix Hernandez and Oakland/Boston's Jon Lester.
  • In the last five seasons, there have 27 times pitchers have equaled or bettered those marks. Add in 2.2 BB/9 or less and that number plummets to 11 seasons in the last five years and 27 seasons since 2000.
  • If you want to find a comparable season based on innings, OPS+, ERA+ and walk rate, the closest may have been Milt Pappas in 1965. That was Pappas' second All-Star season and the year just before he was traded for Frank Robinson. So...Keuchel for Jason Heyward?