HOUSTON -- How can a guy who won three of the six American League Pitcher of the Month Awards during the 2015 season and led the AL in wins, WAR and innings pitched not be the favorite to win the Baseball Writers' Association of America's AL Cy Young Award?
That only scratches the surface of the kind of season put together by Astros left-hander Dallas Keuchel, who along with Toronto's David Price and Oakland's Sonny Gray, is a finalist for the honor, which will be announced at 5 p.m. CT today on MLB Network and MLB.com.
Keuchel went 20-8 with three complete games and a 2.48 ERA over 232 innings and 33 starts last season, helping the Astros earn the AL's second Wild Card spot to secure their first postseason appearance since 2005. He also led all AL pitchers in WHIP (1.02) and ground-ball-to-fly-ball ratio (3.68), ranked second in ERA and opponents' batting average (.217), and tied for third in complete games.
"To be the Pitcher of the Month so many months of the year, to win 20 games, to really answer the challenge and have only one or two starts that were hiccups along the way, he's our ace, he's our guy," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said.
A model of consistency throughout the season, Keuchel was the starting pitcher for the AL in the All-Star Game, and won his second consecutive Rawlings Gold Glove Award.
Keuchel, 27, was the Astros' first 20-game winner since 2005 and only the second lefty 20-game winner in franchise history (Mike Hampton, 1999). His 27 quality starts are the most by an Astros pitcher since Hampton had 27 in 1999.
At Minute Maid Park, Keuchel was untouchable in 2015, going 15-0 with a 1.46 ERA and 139 strikeouts. He's the first pitcher in modern Major League history to go 15-0 at home, extending his overall winning streak to 16 games at home since 2014. His home ERA in '15 was the lowest by an AL pitcher in the Majors since Nolan Ryan had a 1.07 home ERA for the Angels in 1972.
Keuchel had pitched at least six innings in 40 consecutive games before getting beat Sept. 16 at Texas. That's the longest such streak in the Majors since the Tigers' Justin Verlander (2010-12). Keuchel rebounded to win his 20th game in his final start of the regular season, Oct. 2 at Arizona.
"He's an unbelievable pitcher, everybody knows that," BBWAA AL Rookie of the Year Award winner Carlos Correa said. "But he's an even better teammate. He's the guy that is always talking to everybody, he doesn't say he's better than anybody. He treats everybody like they wanted to be treated."
Keuchel is trying to become just the third Astros pitcher to win a Cy Young Award, and the first in the AL. Mike Scott (1986) and Roger Clemens (2004) won the award while the Astros were in the National League.