The Crawfish Boxes’ Ryan Dunsmore has been covering the Astros since they were one of the worst teams in baseball. Now they own MLB’s best record and have one of the best top-to-bottom lineups in the sport. But could their pitching run out of gas in the playoffs? Dunsmore joined Ben Lindbergh and Michael Baumann on The Ringer MLB Show to address that question and all things Astros.
Dallas Keuchel is off to a blistering start, with an 8–0 record and a 1.81 ERA. What’s allowed a pitcher who rarely throws strikes to be so good?
"Keuchel’s game translates even with the lack of velocity he has," Dunsmore answered. "He is able to read swings, he is able to read at-bats, he is able to play off of that and choose his strengths and be able to have everything dip out of the zone at the last second so everything is weak contact. I’m not going to act like a pitching expert, but Dallas Keuchel is so fun to watch because there is clearly a chess game going on when you’re watching him pitch. He’s absolutely battling that batter and trying to figure out how they’re reacting to [his] pitch. Now, that’s where last year he was having a lot of trouble: They were attacking him early and anytime he would throw a straight fastball he was giving up a lot of home runs. … A healthy offseason of rest has really kind of rejuvenated him."
Still, some Astros fans are calling for the team to pick up an ace pitcher. But Dunsmore doesn’t think they need to.
"I think the Astros have enough to make some noise in the playoffs. If you have a healthy Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers, [you can] try to throw out Keuchel as much as possible during the playoffs. I’ve been happy with the way Charlie Morton has pitched, and I think if you can get a healthy Collin McHugh back — I mean, right now the Astros have three starting pitchers on the DL that they were hoping to lean on. And they haven’t even touched into any of their prospects or anybody they have in Triple-A that they’d be comfortable rolling out there. So I think they have enough depth to do it."
Plus, the bullpen has been strong as well.
"I think the bullpen has been one of the under-talked-about strengths of the team. You have guys that have really kind of jumped on and added a bunch of value, like Brad Peacock. I mean, I can’t even imagine that, of all people, the guy the Astros traded for all the way back in 2013 or 2012 is still making an impact on the roster at this point after being almost useless for the past two years. I don’t think there’s any kind of guy I would add in the bullpen if I need to outside of a left-handed pitcher. [But] if you’re going to do an upgrade, you need to do it now, because you’re starting to have some of the guys in the top 30 [of your prospects] here start to have diminishing value. The team saw that with Jonathan Singleton, [A.J.] Reed, Derek Fisher — guys like that need to be turned into some [asset] or turned into major league players."
Listen to the full podcast here. This transcript has been edited and condensed.