<
>

Keuchel creating his own home-field advantage in Houston

The comforts of home have been very good to Houston Astros starter Dallas Keuchel.

According to Elias Sports Bureau research, Keuchel became the third pitcher to start 12-0 at home in the past 60 seasons, joining Billy Pierce of the 1962 Giants and Johan Santana for the 2006 Twins.

He beat the Seattle Mariners on Monday night despite allowing a home run in Minute Maid Park for the first time since Aug. 10, 2014, when he gave one up to Adrian Beltre.

Padding the Cy Young case

Keuchel improved to 16-6 with a 2.24 ERA this season. He has pitched seven innings in each of his past four starts, allowing a total of four runs, striking out 30 and walking three.

Keuchel may not have the strikeout-to-walk numbers of pitchers like Chris Sale and Chris Archer (he ranks third in FIP behind the two of them), but he has dominated in a place in which it is tough to dominate.

Keuchel has a 1.35 ERA at home this season. The Astros' other starting pitchers have combined for a 4.19 ERA there.

The only pitcher to have a sub-2 ERA in a season at Minute Maid Park (minimum 81 innings pitched) is Roy Oswalt, who had a 1.91 ERA there in 2007.

Keuchel has a chance to set the team mark for lowest home ERA in a non-strike season, which is pretty remarkable given the cavernous dimensions of the Astros former home park, the Astrodome.

The current Astros record is a 1.57 ERA by Mike Cuellar in 1968, which was known as “The Year of the Pitcher.”

A good argument

Keuchel’s best case for Cy Young is in both his home-ballpark success and his numbers against good teams.

He’s 7-1 with a 2.02 ERA against teams that entered Monday with a .500 record or better this season (the only loss was to the Royals). Sale has a 2.75 ERA against those teams. Archer’s is 3.42.

How does one go a year without allowing a home run in Houston?

Keuchel is well known throughout baseball for his propensity to keep the ball on the ground, but he seems extra conscientious about doing it when he pitches in Houston.

He has thrown 59 percent of his pitches in the lower third of the strike zone while playing at home, compared to 54 percent on the road. As such, his ground-ball rate at home is 66 percent. On the road, it’s 59 percent.

Thank your defense

Keuchel has gotten outs on 79 percent of the ground balls hit against him this season. Only R.A. Dickey has a higher rate among American League starters (81 percent).

Keuchel is responsible for some of that himself. He had three assists, including one on a double play, giving him 48 this season. That's one more than he had when he won the Gold Glove in 2014.

Keuchel leads all pitchers with 14 Defensive Runs Saved in 2015.

Elias Sports Bureau: Did You Know?

Keuchel had a streak of 122⅔ innings without allowing a home run at Minute Maid Park, by the far the longest homerless streak by a pitcher at this venue. The previous high was 65 innings by Chris Sampson from 2008 to 2010.

Keuchel's streak of 122 2/3 innings without allowing a home run at Minute Maid was the longest homerless streak by a pitcher in home games by a starting pitcher since Tim Lincecum did not allow a HR in 132⅔ innings at home from 2008 to 2009. It's the longest such streak by any pitcher since Jonathan Broxton from 2006 to 2010 (181⅔ IP).