Keuchel earns second consecutive monthly honor

Keuchel earns second consecutive monthly honor

HOUSTON -- Dallas Keuchel won his second consecutive American League Pitcher of the Month Award on Wednesday, joining Andy Pettitte and Randy Johnson as the only pitchers in Astros history to win it twice in a season.

Keuchel went 4-1 in his six starts in May, posting a 2.62 ERA and 38 strikeouts while allowing a .223 opponents' average. He closed the month with back-to-back complete games, including a four-hit, 11-strikeout shutout against the White Sox on Saturday at Minute Maid Park.

Manager A.J. Hinch texted Keuchel around lunchtime on Wednesday and told him he'd won.

"Skip texted me and said 'Congratulations, again. Getting kind of tired of doing this,'" Keuchel said. "I really didn't know I won it, but it's a tremendous honor. It's not all about me; I choose not to have these things. It starts with the guys behind the plate, [Jason] Castro and [Hank] Conger, and the coaching staff getting us ready for the heat of battle. The defense got me out of a bunch of jams, so without those guys. I wouldn't be sitting here right now."

Keuchel and Johnson (1998) are the only pitchers in Astros history to win the award in consecutive months.

"I don't consider myself in that league at all," Keuchel said. "I guess it's just a fluke, if you ask me."

Hardly. Last month, Keuchel led the AL in innings pitched, tied for first in complete games, tied for fourth in wins, and was eighth in strikeouts and ninth in ERA. He leads all Major League pitchers in innings pitched (81 2/3), ERA (1.76), opponents' average (.183) and ground-ball-to-fly-ball ratio (4.68) while being tied for second in the AL in wins (7).

"I think the two complete games at the end of the month, obviously, leave a great impression," Hinch said. "There's a lot of worthy candidates. I haven't paid that close attention to the rest of the league and how the months by months were going. To get that recognition two months in a row is pretty unique and also speaks to the type of season that Dallas has had the first two months."

The 1979 season was the only other in which the Astros took home multiple Pitcher of the Month awards; right-handers Ken Forsch (April), Joe Niekro (May), Joaquin Andujar (June) and J.R. Richard (September) all received the honor (for the National League) that year.

By winning the AL's first two Pitcher of the Month awards in 2015, Keuchel has put himself at the front of the AL Cy Young race and should be under strong consideration to start the All-Star Game.

"There's still four months left," said Keuchel when asked about the Cy Young. "The heavy lifting is in August and September. That thought doesn't even cross my mind."

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.