It's been a magical start to the season for the Astros, currently have a record of 33-20 and sit five games ahead of the Angels for the AL West division lead. The Astros have been the talk of the town since the start of the 2015 season. There success has reflected in the All-Star voting. The face of the Astros, Jose Altuve, leads the voting among American League second baseman. Altuve appears to have enough of a lead, the Astros will have at least one starter during the Midsummer Classic. But, I argue there should be two. Dallas Keuchel should start for the American League in the 2015 All-Star Game.
Keuchel isn't your conventional ace of a pitching staff. The Astros drafted Keuchel in the seventh round of the 2009 draft out of Arkansas. He struggled in his first two seasons with the club with ERAs north of 5.00, finishing the 2013 season in the bullpen. He figured it out in 2014, posting a 12-9 record with a 2.93 ERA in 29 starts (200 IP). He lead the league in complete games (5), grounded into double plays (36), ground ball to fly ball rate (1.88), and was 2014 Gold Glove award winner.
Keuchel has built up on his success in 2014, with a 7-1 record and a 1.76 ERA in 11 starts. Houston is 9-2 in his starts this season. Keuchel leads the American league in innings pitched (81.2), ERA (1.76), BABIP (.215), WHIP (0.91), complete games (2), ground ball rate (63.4%), ground ball to fly ball rate (4.24), lowest percent of hard contact (19.1%), win probability added (2.62), and component ERA (1.49).
It's a laundry list of stats that basically says Keuchel is at his peak of power as a pitcher. Keuchel isn't blowing away hitters with his fastball, but destroying them with his pinpoint location. His rare skill as left-handed sinker ball pitcher plays into the hands of the constantly shifting Astros defense.
Keuchel is currently tied for fourth in WAR with Athletics' starter Sonny Gray at 2.0. Corey Kluber and Chris Archer lead the way at 2.4 and Michael Pineda follows at 2.3. All four pitchers could have the case made to start instead of Keuchel. Keuchel and Pineda are the only two on division-leading teams.
Breaking it down in purely technical standpoint, because remember this game "counts". Only two of the seven top National League vote-getters at the moment have gotten a hit off Keuchel (Jhonny Peralta, Giancarlo Stanton). As a group, the National League starters at the moment are batting a collective .285 with four singles. It wouldn't hurt to have two innings from Keuchel to start the 2015 All-Star game.
It may not be the sexy pick, the Astros never are. Dallas Keuchel should be rewarded for his hot and the Astros' American League-leading 33 wins.
*Stats courtesy of FanGraphs
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