What's wrong with Dallas Keuchel?

Dallas Keuchel had another rough outing on Monday night against the Twins. AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith

Houston Astros starter Dallas Keuchel seems to have lost his magic touch.

Keuchel, who won the Cy Young Award last season, allowed at least five runs for the third straight outing in a 6-2 loss to the Minnesota Twins. He’s 2-4 with a 5.11 ERA in six starts this season.

Keuchel had walked only three batters in 20 innings in his three previous starts, but he walked five in this one. He’s walked at least five hitters twice this season, matching his number of five-walk games from his four previous seasons combined. Keuchel’s walk rate has doubled from 5.6 percent in 2015 to 11.2 percent in 2016.

Keuchel’s loss snapped his franchise-record streak of winning 17 straight regular-season home decisions (he was 17-0 with a 1.47 ERA over 22 home starts during that span).

Fastball not producing

Keuchel, who typically pitched with a low-90s fastball last season, averaged 88.4 mph with the pitch on Monday, his highest fastball velocity of the season.

His strike rate, 59 percent, was in line with his season average, which is down from 63 percent last season. Twins hitters were 3-for-9 with two walks in plate appearances ending with a Keuchel fastball.

Right-handed hitters teeing off

The most damage done against Keuchel has come from right-handed hitters. They hit .227 with a .606 OPS against him in 2015, but are hitting .315 with an .847 OPS this season. They were 7-for-14 against him on Monday.

The image below contrasts Keuchel's pitch location to right-handed hitters. He's having trouble throwing to the outer part of the plate.

Not every sign is discouraging

Keuchel’s numbers aren’t good, but not every one is necessarily a bad one. His hard-hit rate is up, from 9 percent to 11 percent, but 11 percent is still considerably lower than the major league average (about 14 percent).

He has allowed only one home run in 37 innings. And though his ground-ball rate is down by about 5 percentage points, almost all of the missing grounders have been replaced by infield popups, as that rate is up nearly 4 percentage points.

Bad timing also has done Keuchel in. Opponents hit .255 with runners in scoring position last season. This season, they’re batting .351, including 2-for-4 Monday with a two-run Byung Ho Park triple in the fifth inning.

Looking ahead

Keuchel will get a chance to start a new winning streak when he faces the Mariners at home on Saturday. There are a couple of hitters who will pose significant challenges, most notably Nelson Cruz, who is 8-for-17 with two home runs against him.