The Astros have placed ace Dallas Keuchel on the 10-day disabled list with neck discomfort, Brian McTaggart of MLB.com was among those to report (Twitter links). The club has also transferred righty Collin McHugh from the 10-day DL to the 60-day DL, thereby opening up a 40-man roster spot for the just-promoted Francis Martes, tweets Mark Berman of FOX 26.
This is the second DL stint of the year for Keuchel, both of which have come on account of neck issues. Keuchel landed on the shelf in mid-May with a pinched nerve in his neck, but he made a quick return to the mound in that instance. For now, there’s no timetable for a Keuchel comeback, per McTaggart.
An extended absence for the left-handed Keuchel would obviously be a significant concern to Houston, even though it owns the majors’ best record (42-18) and already leads its division by 12 games. Keuchel is among the team’s most valuable players and, after a down 2016 season, has resembled his Cy Young-winning self from 2015. The 29-year-old has averaged nearly seven innings per start in his 11 appearances, having combined for 75 2/3 frames, and posted a microscopic 1.67 ERA. Along the way, Keuchel has helped his cause with the second-highest K/9 of his career (8.21), a low BB/9 (2.14) and the majors’ best ground-ball rate (67.4 percent).
The Astros now have four starters on the DL – Keuchel, McHugh, Charlie Morton and Joe Musgrove – leaving them with an iffy group behind righty Lance McCullers Jr. McHugh’s move to the 60-day DL is retroactive to the beginning of the season, so it won’t affect his timeline, Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle notes (on Twitter). An elbow injury has kept him from taking the hill this year.