It was a close call between McHugh and Mike Fiers this week, but even though Fiers wasn't at fault for the two runs he allowed, McHugh went seven strong in a game the Astros really should not have lost (albeit in eleven innings). He allowed just one run, struck out seven, and allowed six batters to reach base. Since the All-Star Break, McHugh has made five starts in which he's gone at least six innings and allowed two runs or fewer (the lone exception being a five-inning, four-walk, five-run affair). Even with that start factored in, his ERA since then is 2.84, and without it, his ERA is 1.91. So, without Lance McCullers in the majors, we've basically had a carbon copy of him in McHugh. And according to advanced stats, that ERA is not yet done falling, since his BABIP is .311, his FIP is 3.70, and his SIERA & xFIP are around 3.90. I'm still not sure of the reason for his K% being 6.3% lower than last year (his BB% is incrementally better), but since the Break, his K/9 is 8.7, which is much closer to last year's.
If you think choosing between Fiers and McHugh was a hard decision, choosing between Scott Feldman and Dallas Keuchel was even harder. In the end, I just felt that Keuchel's longer outing seemed to be more of a dominating outing. That said, Feldman was also pretty dominant, and it was at the best possible time. He allowed five baserunners in six innings, struck out five, and allowed no runs in a game that finally slowed the skid the Astros had been having on the road. After coming back from a May injury right after the All-Star Break, Feldman had an ugly start at home against Texas (two homers allowed, only two strikeouts in 5.2 innings) but since then has been top-notch, with a 2.16 ERA in those four starts since the clunker, including three road starts with a total of three runs allowed in 19.2 innings. His K-rate may be low, but his BB/9 is only 1.99, which is excellent. His xFIP is 0.29 below his ERA, so even more regression may be in store.
The winner this week. He was showing off his ace-level control (one walk) and also flashing his pretty serious strikeout ability (eight K's) against the Tigers and newly-returned Miguel Cabrera in a dominant seven-inning, one-run outing. Keuchel hasn't lost a game at home this whole season (11 wins) and has just two no-decisions (one after an 8-inning, one-run performance in which he struck out eight). He obviously feeds off the energy at the park, as he has a 1.26 ERA at Minute Maid, a 2.0 BB/9, and a 9.5 K/9 versus a 3.65 road ERA coupled with a 2.2 BB/9 and a 6.0 K/9. I think we know who'll be starting our first playoff home game. The bearded lefty is starting again tomorrow, and I can't wait to see what will happen.