In a home tilt against the Seattle Mariners on Opening Day, the reigning three-time AL Gold Glove Award winner delivered 7.0 innings of shutout ball en route to a 3-0 win for the Astros. Dallas became the first Astros pitcher to make three consecutive Opening Day starts since Roy Oswalt did so in eight straight seasons (2003-10), and the first left-handed pitcher to accomplish the feat in club history. On April 25th against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field, Houston's seventh round selection in the 2009 MLB Draft tossed his first complete game of the season, and his first since his three-hit shutout last season on August 5th against the Texas Rangers at Minute Maid Park. Keuchel's five wins this past month matched the club record for wins in April, joining Roger Clemens, who did so for the Astros during his NL Cy Young Award-winning season in 2004. Additionally, the University of Arkansas product became the first pitcher in franchise history to begin a season by tossing 7.0-or-more innings while allowing two-or- fewer runs in his first six starts. Since 2000, only Johnny Cueto (9 games, 2014) and Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez (8, 2014) have posted longer streaks to begin a Major League season. Propelled by their staff ace, Houston owns the best record in the AL at 18-9 (.667) entering play today.
Minnesota's Ervin Santana (4-0, 0.77 ERA, 1 SHO, 35.0 IP) also received a significant number of votes for AL Pitcher of the Month. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Santana became the first starter in Twins history to post a sub-1.00 ERA through his first five starts. The 2008 AL All-Star tossed 6.0 innings-or-more and allowed one-or-fewer runs in five consecutive starts, marking the longest such streak to begin a season in club history. Others receiving votes included left-handers Chris Sale (1.19 ERA, 37.2 IP, 52 SO) of the Boston Red Sox and James Paxton (3-0, 1.39 ERA, 32.1 IP, 39 SO) of the Mariners.
Nova recorded three wins to go along with a 1.50 ERA and an impressive 22:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio Across 36.0 innings pitched in five starts. Ivan last received Pitcher of the Month honors while a member of the New York Yankees in August 2013, and is the first Pirates pitcher to accomplish the feat since teammate Gerrit Cole in April 2015. Among qualified NL starters, Nova finished the month first in innings pitched and walks, and second in ERA. The Pirates' ace allowed just 26 hits and two home runs.
During his fourth start of the season, Nova issued his first free pass to an opposing batter since September 13th of last season, ending his streak of 154 batters faced without permitting a base on balls. In his final start of the month on April 29th against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park, the 30-year-old posted his best start of 2017, needing just 95 pitches to throw the third complete-game shutout of his career, last accomplishing the feat as a Yankee on September 21, 2013. The Palenque, Dominican Republic native tossed the first complete-game shutout for the Bucs since Jeff Locke did so last year on May 30th. With his second complete game of the season (also April 17th), Nova became the first Pirates pitcher to log two complete games in April since Zane Smith (1992). It was his fifth complete game since being acquired by the Pirates last year, the most of any pitcher in Baseball since the beginning of last August. Boston's Chris Sale is the next closest pitcher in that timeframe with three complete games. Entering play today, the control-specialist has made 16 consecutive starts allowing one walk-or-fewer, dating back to August 6, 2016. In franchise history, Nova trails only Babe Adams, who posted a streak of 17 games from July 1, 1922-May 7, 1923. While logging the most innings of any NL pitcher during his award-winning month, the efficient eight-year veteran has not thrown more than 95 pitches in any start, tossing strikes 66% of the time.
Jeremy Hellickson (4-0, 1.80 ERA, 30.0 IP) of the Philadelphia Phillies received support for his outstanding month as well. Hellickson became the first Phillies starter to compile a 4-0 record in April since Mike Grace (1996). His final start in April concluded a six-start streak in which he allowed two earned runs-or-fewer and one walk-or-fewer. Others receiving votes for NL Pitcher of the Month included three-time NL Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw (4-1, 2.29 ERA, 35.1 IP, 39 SO) of the Los Angeles Dodgers; Mike Leake (3-1, 1.35 ERA, 33.1 IP, 25 SO) of the St. Louis Cardinals; Gio Gonzalez (3-0, 1.62 ERA, 33.1 IP, 26 SO) of the Washington Nationals; reliever Hansel Robles (4-0, 1.84 ERA, 14.2 IP, 17 SO) of the New York Mets; and NL Reliever of the Month Greg Holland (1.50 ERA, 11 SV, 13 SO) of the Colorado Rockies.
In recognition of their Pitcher of the Month Awards, Dallas Keuchel and Ivan Nova will each receive a specially designed trophy, suitably engraved, for their accomplishments.