KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Saying he's a "nobody now in 2016," reigning American League Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel took the mound for the first time in Grapefruit League play this spring and threw two scoreless innings as the Astros beat the Braves, 9-5, on Wednesday afternoon at Osceola County Stadium.
Keuchel, who's on an individualized throwing program this spring, threw 34 pitches and allowed a walk and a double and struck out one batter -- and he was his own worst critic after the outing.
"It felt great to be back out there in competition," Keuchel said. "I'd like to have a few of those fastballs back. It felt like I was all over the plate. That's to be expected with a little bit more adrenaline pumping besides bullpens and live BP. All in all, I'll take it, but I've got to fine-tune more and more each time. I've got four more starts to see what I've got next time."
The individualized throwing program Keuchel is on is designed to ease him back into action following a heavy workload last year; he threw 248 innings, including the playoffs, in the 2015 season. Lance McCullers is also on a similar program, and he is expected to get into a game this weekend for the first time.
"It's nice," Keuchel said. "It's definitely catered to how my body is feeling and reacting. I'm not going to be disappointed with having a more tentative schedule and just see how it goes. Right now, it feels great. It's typical Spring Training soreness and fatigue. It's just about stamina and building up to get that endurance up."
Astros catcher Jason Castro caught Keuchel in the bullpen a few times this spring and knows him well from the last few years.
"[I] knew as soon as he took the field today, he'd be on point," he said. "He looked good -- stuff, movement, all that. It's about what we expected. Same old Dallas. Just little things and working on some release point stuff, but for his first outing of spring, I thought he looked pretty good."