When unearned runs are tagged to a pitcher, it's usually the fault of some shotgun-armed shortstop or an ill-fated diving attempt by an outfielder. However, Keuchel takes full blame for the runs due to his error fielding a ball and a wild pitch. Outside of that ugly inning, however, Keuchel was nails, striking out seven, allowing no earned runs (three unearned), and walking two. His ERA is now 2.22, best in the AL, and his 2.70 xFIP, 2.81 SIERA, and 5.8 WAR are good enough for second (behind Chris Sale). He continued his everlasting streak of quality starts (he has one in all 29 of his starts this year) with his six innings and, interestingly, threw the exact same number of pitches and same number of strikes as in his previous start.
Lance McCullers, Jr.
Again, not a great start, but we didn't have any great starts this week. In 5.0 innings and 100 pitches, McCullers allowed two runs, walked two, and struck out one in a game that was later lost when C.J. Cron hit a solo shot off Will Harris in the eighth inning. It was another solid start for him since his return from the minors. McCullers leads all AL rookies in WAR, FIP, xFIP, SIERA, and K-BB%, among other categories. I know there isn't a ROY award solely for pitchers, and that the award itself will probably come down to Correa and Lindor, but McCullers should definitely be in contention, as he is third among all AL rookies in WAR. As the playoff race heats up, it'll be interesting to see the role McCullers plays down the stretch.
Outside of three solo shots, which went to Mike Trout and designated Astros killer C.J. Cron (who double-dipped), Mike Fiers had an excellent game in which he allowed six hits (HRs included), walked none, and struck out eight over seven strong innings. He also fully expected to lose the game before the Astros somehow scored five runs in the top of the ninth to salvage a win. Baseball, man. Things happen. Fiers now has (no biggie) a 2.08 ERA as a starter for the Astros and has not allowed an earned run in Minute Maid Park. He's also under team control through 2018. Dare I say Jeff Luhnow has, thus far, seemingly made the correct decision to include Phillips in the trade because of Fiers' involvement?