The Astros will place ace Dallas Keuchel on the 10-day DL with a pinched nerve in his neck, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart (Twitter link) and others reported. Left-hander Ashur Tolliver will be recalled in a corresponding move.
The injury doesn’t seem particularly serious, as Keuchel is expected to only miss one start since the DL stint was backdated to Wednesday. In his last start, on Tuesday, Keuchel threw just 70 pitches over five innings (his shortest outing of the season), though he still held the Marlins to two runs and earned the victory.
After a disappointing 2016 season, Keuchel has shown early signs of returning to his 2015 Cy Young Award-winning form. Keuchel has a 1.84 ERA, 7.63 K/9 and a league-best 67.1% ground ball rate over his first 63 2/3 IP of the season, and was named the AL Pitcher Of The Month for April. There are a few red flags for Keuchel — a .215 BABIP, 88.2% strand rate and a career-high 19.4% homer rate — but overall, ERA predictors are still pretty rosy (3.27 FIP, 2.87 xFIP, 2.97 SIERA) about the lefty’s performance. Despite the lack of missed bats, Keuchel is excelling at generating weak contact, with 31% of his balls in play rated as ’soft’ contact by Fangraphs and only 20.8% rated as hard contact.