Houston Astros: Injuries may cost team two deserving all-star selections

May 27, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel (60) delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
May 27, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel (60) delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /

The Houston Astros fan base is doing a great job voting in our three young players who are very deserving of all-star spots. George Springer, Jose Altuve, and Carlos Correa are at or near the top of a lot of offensive categories at their respective positions and have earned the right to start in the game.

Unfortunately the Houston Astros should be guaranteed at least two more spots with how well a couple teammates were playing prior to suffering injuries. Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers Jr. were arguably making more of a difference than any other players on the team with how well they were pitching.

While the team has gotten solid offensive production from each and every player up and down  the lineup, the last two weeks of a 6-8 record without Keuchel and McCullers Jr. have shown the value of those two aces at the top of the rotation.

Of qualifying pitchers in the American League, Keuchel and McCullers Jr. are first and third in the ERA category with a 1.67 ERA and a 2.58 ERA respectively. Dallas Keuchel is also leading the league in batting average allowed, WHIP, ground ball outs and pitches per innings pitched showing his efficiency, control and dominance all at once. Lance McCullers Jr. is fifth, sixth, second and sixth in the league in those same categories respectively. McCullers Jr. also has the sexy numbers with a 10.45 K per 9 innings pitched average.

Keuchel, if healthy, may still get the nod with his perfect 9-0 record in 11 starts just because he leads the league in nearly every pitching category and has logged enough innings (75.2 to be exact) that the numbers aren’t just a short sample size aberration. McCullers Jr. is a little bit of a closer call but with both players scheduled to return in late June they’ll still be able to make a case for their spots on the team.

And the nice thing about being a pitcher trying to make the all-star game is:

  1. The most valued metrics that judge your talent level are averages (ERA, WHIP, batting average against, etc.) compared to offensively where total numbers like home runs, runs scored, hits and RBIs matter more.
  2. The fan vote won’t take away nine spots from you. You’re judged by the manager who has a more objective perspective on who should be in the game.

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The negative is that every team needs a representative and sometimes when a team is really bad, the manager sneaks one of the team’s relievers who’s having a good enough season to be the sole representative picked from said bad team.

While I would understand McCullers Jr. not getting a spot, though he is deserving, I think it would be a bit of a slight if Keuchel doesn’t go to the game. Both players would be very useful as well with their efficiency as evidenced by their pitches per innings pitched averages and both could be utilized in different situations.

Keuchel would be used if you want a double play ball or don’t want a sacrifice fly lifted into the air whereas McCullers Jr. could come on in a bases loaded no outs situation and get some strikeouts for you.

While it would be understandable if they weren’t selected, this is the shame that is an all-star game half-way through the season. If Keuchel and McCullers Jr. remain healthy the rest of the year they will most likely have all-star worthy numbers (Hence why when they vote on hall of famers I think all-star game appearances aren’t that important a factor.)

Hopefully Terry Francona will be willing to give both guys a spot. If the American League team wants to win they would definitely put both pitchers on if they’re healthy. It’s too bad the all-star game isn’t done properly as they should do away with the participation trophy spot for bad teams.

Next: Injured Starting Pitching is Progressing

But now that it is an exhibition match, it is for the fans and everyone wants to see at least one of their home town team’s players out there playing. However because of one or two of those participation trophy spots, we may not see a couple of our favorite ‘Stros out on the field come July 10th.