They have the best one-two punch in the American League
On July 15th, Dallas Keuchel became the first Houston Astros pitcher to start the MLB All-Star Game since Roger Clemens did so in 2004. One week later, the Astros added another All-Star caliber starting pitcher to their rotation in Scott Kazmir.
Keuchel has emerged as a Cy Young Award candidate, and if he finishes the 2015 regular season with the same dominance that he has displayed to this point, it will be tough to vote against him. He is among the top-5 American League pitchers in wins above replacement (WAR), ERA and wins, as well and home runs, walks and hits allowed per nine innings. Keuchel is also tied for the MLB-lead with two shutouts.
Kazmir has been masterful since arriving in Houston at the end of July, recording a 1.04 ERA and not allowing a run until his third start with the team. While his 1-2 record since joining the Astros does not impress, it also does not reflect his performance on the mound. The Astros gave up a total of four unearned runs during Kazmir’s two losses, and provided very little run support on offense.
Kazmir and Keuchel both rank in the top-10 in the MLB in WAR among pitchers, as well as ERA.
Neither player may be as overpowering as the Kansas City Royals’ Johnny Cueto or the Toronto Blue Jays’ David Price, but that is not what the Astros need. What they need is reliability and depth at the top of the rotation.
Kazmir and Keuchel provide them with both, forming the best one-two punch of any team in the American League, and arguably in all of baseball. When October rolls around, this is all that a team needs to jump out to a 2-0 lead and gain complete control of a series.
Next: A surprisingly dominant bullpen