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Astros ace Dallas Keuchel, out since June 2, poised for Friday return

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Keuchel calls return to mound 'exciting' (0:43)

Dallas Keuchel says it "ate" at him that he wasn't able to help his team every fifth day and is excited to return to the rotation on Friday. (0:43)

Houston Astros ace Dallas Keuchel will return to the rotation on Friday against the Detroit Tigers, manager A.J. Hinch told reporters Wednesday.

Keuchel hasn't pitched for the AL West leaders since June 2 because of a pinched nerve in his neck.

"I've been looking forward to this for a while,'' Kuechel said before Wednesday's game against Philadelphia. "I feel great. It's go time.''

Keuchel pitched five innings in his last rehab start and responded well in his bullpen, prompting the decision to activate the left-hander from the disabled list on Friday.

Hinch said Collin McHugh will start Saturday and Lance McCullers will start Sunday.

"We haven't been able to name those three as our starting pitchers together all year, so it feels good to go into a series with those guys," Hinch said.

Hinch said the Astros will ease Keuchel back.

"We'll be careful with him getting him deep into games and stuff like that, and we'll use the first couple of starts to ramp him up to that," he said. "We're confident enough to activate him off the DL and test him against the Tigers, so we don't expect any problems, but until the adrenaline kicks in, we're not going to know how exactly he feels."

Keuchel, the 2015 American League Cy Young winner, put up some of the best numbers in the majors for the Astros before he was injured, going 9-0 with a 1.67 ERA in 11 starts to bounce back from a tough 2016 campaign.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.