Astros' Dallas Keuchel best pitcher you've never heard of

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Dallas Keuchel wasn't considered a prospect. He wasn't even considered very good.

But, so far this year, the 26-year-old left-hander is changing people's minds with the way he is throwing for the Houston Astros.

Coming into the season, he held a 5.20 ERA in 38 starts. This year, he's 6-3 with a 2.70 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 7.5 strikeouts per nine inning while leading the Astros. He's playing so well that recently put him as No. 5 on their list of players in the race for American League MVP.

Over the past three weeks, he's just gotten better with a 2-1 record and 1.90 ERA, leading him to earn AL Player of the Week honors.

Keuchel is doing all of this while prospects Mike Foltynewicz and Mark Appel are waiting in the wings, each prepared to reach the major leagues and enter the rotation this season.

Everyone on the Astros knows that the prospects are coming, and coming soon. George Springer and Jon Singleton are already there. Shortstop prospect Carlos Correa will be there in no time. So, the current Astros are trying to sure they will be there to join the talented stock of young players when the time comes.

"We're pretty talented," Keuchel told "We're Major League baseball players, no different than other guys, like the Yankees and Red Sox and those guys. They were in the position we're in at one point. It's all about getting your feet on the ground and moving. I think we're doing a great job."

Keuchel is pitching well enough that people are comparing what he is doing to what Cubs pitcher Travis Wood did last season.

"If I throw strikes, I'm good," Keuchel told "If I don't, I'm not very good. I'd rather throw strikes and be good."

Keuchel was a seventh-round pick out of Arkansas in 2009 as a guy who threw well but never threw hard enough to be considered a huge prospect.

"I think when you're able to plus and minus your fastball and have the type of command that Dallas has, you can pitch," Astros manager Bo Porter told "He's able to cut the ball in to the righties, sink it away from righties, which runs it in on lefties. He has confidence to throw his breaking ball and his changeup in any count.

"You look at what he was able to do tonight, the most impressive thing to me was that regardless what the score was, 8-0, he just kept pitching. [He was throwing] 3-1 changeups, 2-0 breaking balls. He didn't just say, 'We're up 8-0, let's just try to get through this.' That's complete maturation of not losing focus and continuing to pitch regardless of the situation."

Keuchel has thrown complete-game shutouts in two of his past three outings, shutting out the Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers while falling one out short of a complete game in a win over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

His loss to Baltimore while giving up three runs on Saturday, in fact, was his first loss since May 3.

He'll be trying to continue his positive run when he takes the mound against the Minnesota Twins on Friday night.

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MLB American League
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