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FEAR THE BEARD: a Dallas Keuchel appreciation story

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Over the past few weeks, there has been a ton of discussions on who should be on the Playoff roster. One of the most shocking things to me, was that Dallas Keuchel was often listed as the player who should either be off the roster, or how people have a lack of trust in him. And while I understand it, it just didn’t sit right with me. So I took a step back to analyze just how lucky we are to have Dallas on our team.

Dallas Keuchel

As our second longest tenured Astro, Keuchel endured some brutal 100+ loss season, let’s take a look back to how we got here today.

In the 7th Round of the 2009 Draft, 221st overall, Dallas Keuchel was selected by the Houston Astros from the University of Arkansas. 200 spots after the Astros’ first round selection of Jiovanni Mier.

In 2012, John Sickles published this article about Dallas, and while it’s worthwhile for a full read, here are some exerts.

“Keuchel is a 6-3, 210 pound left-handed hitter and thrower, born January 1st, 1988, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. His fastball isn’t very fast, being as low as 83-85 MPH at times, though at his best he works at 86-89, which is where he was in his big league debut. His main breaking ball is an adequate curve, but his out-pitch is usually his changeup, a solid offering with good action low in the strike zone.”

“From a sabermetric perspective, Keuchel doesn’t have the kind of strikeout rate that promises long-term success, but control is impressive and the grounders help. If he gets good defensive support and has a bit of luck, he could be a number five starter or useful relief asset.”

Not exactly a ringing endorsement. As Keuchel progressed, the reviews kept getting better, but were still reluctant as his velocity held him back. 5 years later, John Sickels published a Prospect Retrospective, which highlighted some of the changes and the recaps his prospect books.

Even McTaggart didn’t recognize him as a prospect:

So what changed?

Well the easy answer, is he added the beard, but here’s what Keuchel had to say on what changed.

“”I think the sabermetric people have helped me out a lot, just based on my exit velocity and all of those stats. Because everybody in their dog keeps asking me in how I’m leading me in weak contact (and) ground-ball ratio and all of that stuff. With all of that talk, it helps me out as well just to know that other people appreciate the work that ‘non-strikeout’ pitchers are doing in the league. I think Zack [Greinke] would say the same thing.” – Dallas Keuchel

Career

Three time Gold Glove Award Winner
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As you guys know, Dallas Keuchel has a strong trophy cabinet already with a Cy Young, World Series Championship, 2x All-Star, and 3 Gold Gloves to his name.

During his 7-year run in Houston, he has accumulated the following stat line:

76-63 with a 3.66 ERA in 1,189 IP for a ERA+ of 108

But his first two years, he struggled, and while you can’t take out career stats, I can do so for this article. Since 2014, Dallas Keuchel has pitched to the following line:

67-45 with a 3.28 ERA in 950 IP for an ERA+ of 121.

In that time:

In WAR he was the 16th most valuable pitcher (ahead of names such as Madison Bumgarner, Trevor Bauer, Johnny Cueto)

In ERA he was the 17th best pitcher (ahead of names such as Clevinger, Carrasco, Price, Verlander, Cole)

In IP he comes in at 13th (above a ton of great names like Kershaw, Bumgarner, DeGrom, Felix Hernadez)

The list goes on and on.

In 2018, Dallas came through with the following line:

12-11, 3.74 ERA, 204.2 IP 3.6 WAR

Looking at his stats, and he ranks in the top 30 for basically every important stat (other than K/9). He was still an ace pitcher.

Wikipedia has an Ace Pitcher defined as the best starting pitcher on a team. And while I know people have different opinions of what the term “Ace” means. Now by definition, Dallas is not the Ace of the Astros. But I’m going to take it a step further, and basically it means there are 30 “Aces” in baseball. The difference I’d like to propose, is imagining they were divided equally, so the 30 best pitchers are considered Aces instead of being penalized for having too many great pitchers, or on the other hand, being rewarded for being on a terrible team.

Based on his career, Dallas is undoubtedly an Ace by those standards. But even in 2018, he ranks in the top 30 in almost any relevant stat.

Potential Goodbye Tour:

”This season has been more meaningful, I think, just because it could potentially be my last,” Keuchel said. “I’ve never taken for granted anything to this point with the Astros or my own career. You start to cherish the little things when, potentially, it could be -- you could be in a different spot next year.”

”This team has made it easy to come to the ballpark every day and just enjoy it,” Keuchel said. “So I have enjoyed it, and whether or not this is my last run with the Astros, like I said, it’s easy to come to the ballpark with this group. I’ve cherished it enough that I know how to go about my business and do things the right way.”

Staff Memories

“I grew up in the New York area, which as you can imagine, means 99.99% of people were Yankees fans, (.001% were Mets when they were winning). Being an NL team – we didn’t really match up much. Then in 2015, it happened, the AL Wild Card. I immediately bought tickets with a group of friends. Into Yankee stadium I went, an adventure with an Astros (Biggio) jersey on. Dallas Keuchel saved me that day. In a playoff atmosphere, with fans screaming at me and booing me (a chant of a$$hole), every time a fan tried to insult me, I would simply ask them what the score was. Why? Well Keuchel DOMINATED the Yankees. On that day, Keuchel not only SHUT DOWN the Yankees to the tune of 6 IP, 0 ER, 7 Strikeouts, while only allowing 3 hits, but he SHUT UP a stadium full of Yankees fans. Something I’ve never seen happen before. For that, I’ll never forget Keuchel, and will always love him even if he doesn’t return next year” – TheHebrewHammah

“My favorite Keuchel memory is his Game 1, 2017 ALCS victory over the Yankees. With their right hand heavy lineup, it seemed like a perilous game for Dallas and the Astros, but he completed seven scoreless innings with 10 strikeouts and just one walk. We won the game 2-1, in large part due to Marwin Gonzalez throwing out Greg Bird at home. His 10 strikeouts tied an Astros playoff history record which he shared with Nolan Ryan and Mike Scott, but his accomplishment is overlooked today, largely because on the next day Justin Verlander was even better, pitching possibly the greatest playoff game in all Astros history.” - Bilbos

Summary

Keuchel is overshadowed with Verlander and Cole in the rotation, but honestly, has still pitched like an ace this year, with his second half showing his signs of life. I do think that Keuchel playing through injuries has hurt a lot of our fans perspective on him.

I can honestly say that I do have faith in Keuchel to step into that lime light and be the pitcher we know he can be!

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Tell us your Favorite Keuchel memory!

Poll

Do you trust Keuchel in the Playoffs?

This poll is closed

  • 77%
    Yes
    (169 votes)
  • 22%
    No
    (49 votes)
218 votes total Vote Now