Dallas Keuchel, pitcher, Houston Astros
After winning the 2015 American League Cy Young Award, Houston Astros pitcher Dallas Keuchel flopped in 2016. His ERA ballooned from 2.48 to 4.55, his FIP rocketed from 2.97 to 3.87, he lost nearly a strikeout per nine innings and went from 7.2 Baseball Reference WAR to 0.5.
Coming into this year, Keuchel has to prove he’s the pitcher who set the league on fire two years ago and not the one who had to be doused after every start last season.
Some underlying numbers tell different stories here. It could be argued that Keuchel lost so much between seasons simply because his BABIP allowed regressed to the mean. However, it’s worth noting that his xFIP — FIP allowed with home run per fly ball rate at held at a constant — was 3.53 last season, over a full run below his ERA.
In a stacked AL West, the Astros need Keuchel to be at his best. Whether he lives up to this will define their season.