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TCB Astros Pitcher of the Week: Week of July 29-August 3, 2015

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Does Scott Kazmir actually allow runs?

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Honorable Mention

Dallas Keuchel

Keuchel definitely rebounded from his last start by going six strong, allowing two hits, two runs, and striking out eight. The three walks were a bit high for him, but it was a victory nonetheless. His K/9 is easily higher than it was at any stage in his career thus far at 8.03 and his BB/9 of 2.12 is the lowest it's been since Triple-A in 2012. Keuchel is projected for 231 innings this year (source: Steamer), a definite career high, and will probably also have at least one playoff spot. His pitch count hasn't dipped below 94 this season and he's only thrown fewer than 101 pitches four times this year. I wouldn't be surprised if he falters a bit down the stretch, so the Cy Young favorite (IMHO) is entitled to end his streak of pitching at least six innings any time he wants.

Collin McHugh

Now this is the regression we were hoping for. Seven innings pitched, eight hits scattered, one run allowed, and six strikeouts. That's his fourth win in a row if you like that kind of stuff. The strikeouts are especially welcome: his K/9 has dropped from 9.14 last year all the way down to 6.99 this year (the already-good walk rate has improved a bit). Accompanied by a BABIP of .314, it's not difficult to figure out the 4.27 ERA. Expect more of starts like this past one in the near future.

Winner

Scott Kazmir

Runs happen a lot. Just look at yesterday's game for a few examples. Pitching may be at its best in decades, but that doesn't mean run-scoring has just fallen by the wayside. That makes Scott Kazmir's July all the more impressive. Sure, three of those appearances were with Oakland, but he's our pitcher now, and he's gone 14.2 innings so far without allowing a run. He had an ERA of 0.26 this past month that happens to be the third-best July ever. Surely it can't be sustainable. Every projection system doesn't have him cracking 3.50 over the rest of the season, so who are we to hope that scoreless streak goes on and on? There was one other pitcher the Astros acquired at the deadline a couple decades ago. That pitcher who had one of the best second-halfs in history. Nearly put a very good Astros team over the hump. Can Scott Kazmir be that guy? (And now I've just jinxed him by comparing him to Randy Johnson. I might not want to watch his next start.)