Today’s MLB pitching match-up of the day features a former Young winner on a hot streak taking on a struggling pitcher looking to rebound.
Several teams went into the 2017 season with high expectations. Many predicted that the Houston Astros would finish the season at the top of the AL West. So far, the Astros have met those expectations, and are currently sitting comfortably in first place. The Astros may be the most balanced team in MLB with their combination of youth and experience. A large portion of their success this season has revolved around their pitching staff. The Astros are currently fourth in the AL with a 3.31 team ERA. Their pitchers lead the AL (and are fourth in all of baseball) with 180 strikeouts.
The Cleveland Indians have the same expectations after making it to the 2016 World Series. So far, the Indians have met their expectations, currently sitting at the top of the AL Central standings tied with the Tigers. The AL Central is close, and the division has some potential wild cards. The Indians are arguably the most complete team in that division, but their pitching staff has struggled a bit out of the gate. The Indians last year finished second in the AL in ERA. This year, they are 12th (4.19 team ERA).
The past two years have featured two different Dallas Keuchels. There’s the Cy Young Dallas Keuchel, who broke out with a 20-8, 2.48 ERA, 216-strikeout campaign in 2015. Then, there’s the inconsistent Dallas Keuchel that we saw last year, where his ERA rose and his strikeout total decreased.
Keuchel has rebounded nicely this season, returning to his Cy Young form. All four of his starts this year have been quality starts, and in 28 innings he has only allowed two earned runs. Keuchel has only allowed six walks and 16 hits (.168 BAA, 0.79 WHIP).
Keuchel now enters Progressive Field against a tough Indians lineup. In addition, Keuchel has struggled on the road in his career. Last season, Keuchel posted a 5.42 ERA on the road, allowing 14 home runs in 88 innings.
It’s been a while since Keuchel has faced the Indians. In fact, the last time he faced Cleveland was during his Cy Young season on July 6, 2015. In that game, Keuchel was victorious in a shaky start, where he allowed three runs in six innings on nine hits. Keuchel in his career is 2-0 in five appearances against the Indians.
This year has been anything but successful for Josh Tomlin, who enters this match-up against the Astros looking to find some sort of form. Tomlin’s first three starts have been tough, and his inflated ERA proves it. Tomlin’s best start so far came on April 18, when he pitched six solid innings of work against the Twins. However, in 12.1 innings, Tomlin has allowed 16 earned runs. His opponents’ average stands at .393, as Tomlin has allowed 22 hits on the year so far.
This start is very uncharacteristic of Tomlin, as he has had success in the month of April in his career. Last year, Tomlin went 3-0 with a 3.18 ERA in the month of April. This will be Tomlin’s first start against the Astros. Last year, he made one relief appearance against Houston, pitching a scoreless inning, striking out one, and allowing one hit.
Tomlin went 1-2 against the AL West last year, making starts against Oakland, Texas, and Seattle. This is a critical game for Tomlin, as the Astros lineup is incredibly tough. If he can get through Houston, this may lead to a turnaround as the season rolls on.