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TCB Pitcher of the Week: July 17-July 28, 2015

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Scott Kazmir doesn't waste any time in bringing home the top honors.

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I know I won't be honoring him this week because of the start against KC, but Dallas Keuchel's performance of 13 Ks in seven innings deserves some respect. Now, on to the honorees:

Honorable Mention

Vincent Velasquez

I think this is the first time we've had a pitcher both start and relieve within the time alotted. Whatever the case, VV definitely pitched well enough in both to secure the award. He earned his first-ever win with seven strikeouts and three runs allowed in six innings. Then, flashing high-nineties heat, he struck out two in one inning in his first major-league relief experience. With the Astros seemingly set on acquiring another starter (Tyson Ross, anyone?), the bullpen should be Velasquez's main role over rest of the season with a possible spot start or two. Something else encouraging: With his FIP at 3.09, if VV qualified, then he would rank above pitchers like Shelby Miller, Madison Bumgarner, and Johnny Cueto.

Collin McHugh

McHugh has had a pair of very solid starts since the break, and he earned the win in both of them. He somehow scattered eleven hits over six innings and only allowed one run (my heart is still racing from that game) and allowed two runs in seven innings against Boston. He struck out four in both games and walked one man in the Boston game. His ERA has been steadily dropping from the 5.08 peak it reached after the Seattle debacle back in June and is now a more-palatable 4.25, and it should drop some more, seeing as how FIP, xFIP and SIERA all have him between 3.81-3.87. If it comes down to the playoffs and the Astros have indeed acquired a new pitcher, I'm not sure I'd want to exclude McHugh from a four-man rotation.

Winner

Scott Kazmir
Kazmir had an outstanding debut for the Astros with only three hits and one walk surrendered in seven shutout innings. The advanced stats might not be a huge fan (all projection systems expect his RoS ERA to land somewhere in the mid-to-high 3s), but Kazmir only needs to pitch well enough to be either a #2 (when McCullers is in the BP) or a #3 (when McCullers is in the rotation). The Astros suddenly have a huge amount of pitching depth that should carry the team throughout September without needing youngsters' arms very often, and Kazmir is at the forefront of that group. However, that BABIP may be low fora specific reason: his Hard% is seventh-best in the majors, and his GB% of 44.4% plays right into the Astros' strength.