Houston Astros starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel has been voted American League Pitcher of the Month for April.
Keuchel compiled a 3-0 record with a 0.73 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 37.0 innings pitched over five appearances to claim his first career Pitcher of the Month Award, and the first for the Astros since Wandy Rodriguez in July 2009 when the Club was still competing in the National League. Among qualifying starters in the AL (minimum 20.0 innings), Keuchel finished first in innings pitched, second in ERA, tied for second in wins, and tied for seventh in strikeouts. The left-hander held opponents to a Major League-low .130 batting average and has yet to give up a home run.
Serving as Houston's Opening Day starter on April 6th against the Cleveland Indians, the Tulsa, Oklahoma native allowed three hits and struck out four over 7.0 innings of shutout ball in his first career Opening Day start to propel the Astros to a 2-0 win over the vising Indians at Minute Maid Park. The University of Arkansas product became just the fifth southpaw to start on Opening Day in Houston franchise history and also the second pitcher in Club history to toss at least 7.0 shutout innings on Opening Day. The 2014 AL Gold Glove winner was masterful again on April 24th against the Oakland Athletics, tossing 9.0 shutout innings, while only surrendering two hits and two walks in a tough luck no-decision that saw the Astros beat the A's, 5-4, in an 11-inning affair. Per the Elias Sports Bureau, the only other Astros pitcher to have a lower ERA through his first four starts of a season than Keuchel's 0.62 was Roger Clemens, who pitched to the tune of a 0.32 ERA to open up his 2005 campaign. The former seventh round pick by Houston in the 2009 Draft closed the month in San Diego where the Astros beat the Padres, 7-2, on the back of Dallas' 8.0 innings of one-run ball. With this victory, Houston has won 10 straight games in starts made by Keuchel. The streak ties the franchise record, placing the four-year veteran in the company of Joe Niekro (1979), Nolan Ryan (1983), Donne Wall (1996), and Clemens (2004-05). Keuchel has now posted 12 consecutive quality starts, dating back to August 15, 2014, which is the longest streak by an Astros pitcher since Rodriguez posted 13 straight starts from July 25-September 28, 2010. It is also the longest active streak in Major League Baseball. Led in large part by their ace, Houston enters play today on a 10-game winning streak, bearing the best record in the AL and the Club's 18-7 mark represents the best start in franchise history.
Others receiving votes for AL Pitcher of the Month included Felix Hernandez (4-0, 1.82 ERA, 34.2 IP, 36 SO) of the Seattle Mariners; Chris Archer (3-2, 0.84 ERA, 32.1 IP, 37 SO) of the Tampa Bay Rays; Nick Martinez (2-0, 0.35 ERA, 26.0 IP, 11 SO) of the Texas Rangers;