Since this week has only had four games (and two innings of the All-Star Game), we decided this would be an appropriate time to name the best Astros pitcher of the first half, (including the past four games). Here is a breakdown of the awards thus far:
|Lance McCullers||||||| ||||||
Reliever of the Half-Season
Where do I start? The 0.83 ERA in 43.1 innings? The .148 OBP-against in high-leverage situations? The fact that he's allowed five baserunners while runners were in scoring position (.132 OBP)? Should I mention that he strikes out 32.6% of right-handed opponents? The otherworldly 98.5 LOB%? His GB% has jumped nearly 17% from last year, did you know that? He's allowed four earned runs all season, and every single one of those was a solo home run (he has also given up two unearned runs). Thank you, Jeff Luhnow. I think he's a keeper.
Lance McCullers, Jr.
Collin McHugh/Vincent Velasquez (Debate)
Pitcher of the Half-Season
This is the moment you've all been waiting for, and what do you expect? Dallas has won this award five times and it's already his to lose next week. His 2.12 ERA is the best in the AL. He has had three games with at least eleven strikeouts. Every single start of his has gone at least six innings, and he's only allowed more than three runs four times. Meanwhile, he's allowed no runs in seven games, three of which were complete-game shutouts. His highest walk number in a game is four (that happened once), and he's issued zero walks four times.
You want peripherals? 3.74 K/BB, 2.64 FIP, 2.57 xFIP, 2.61 SIERA, 25.4% soft% (second-best in baseball) versus 20.7% hard% (easily the best in baseball), 64.0% GB%...does that do it for you? He's the best fielding pitcher in baseball, which plays right into his hands as a groundball machine. Check out this Fangraphs chart of his batted balls:
With the Astros' use of the shift (and elite defensive SS Carlos Correa) and Keuchel's own fielding prowess, this is a perfect example of the right player in the right situation. The best pitcher in the AL deserves this award, hands-down.