Dallas Keuchel only recently returned from a neck injury that had sidelined him since June 2. He rejoined a Houston Astros team that is atop the American League standings and is fighting to keep pace with the Los Angeles Dodgers for best overall record.
The Astros, like the Dodgers and other World Series contenders, were connected to several elite players prior to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. Chief among them were Baltimore Orioles closer Zach Britton, Texas Rangers ace Yu Darvish and San Diego Padres closer Brad Had.
The Astros were also one of several teams with reported interest in Detroit Tigers closer Justin Wilson. Britton and Hand remained put, while the Dodgers traded for Darvish, and the Chicago Cubs acquired Wilson.
Keuchel, the Astros’ ace and longest-tenured pitcher, voiced his frustration and disappointment over the team’s inability to trade for one of the aforementioned pitchers, via Brian McTaggart of MLB.com:
“I’m not going to lie; disappointment is a little bit of an understatement,” Keuchel said. “I feel like a bunch of teams really bolstered their rosters for the long haul and for a huge playoff push, and us just kind of staying pat was really a disappointment to myself.”
Keuchel went on to add he’s confident the Astros, as constructed, are capable of winning the World Series this season. Perhaps in the Astros’ defense, a report indicated they, along with the Dodgers, were hamstrung by curious and unexpected behavior from the Orioles.
While it did not create the same splash as the Cubs, Dodgers or Washington Nationals, the Astros weren’t completely inactive as they swung a deal for Francisco Liriano. It’s believed Houston will utilize the 33-year-old Liriano in relief.
The Astros bullpen ranks ninth in the Majors in opponents’ on-base plus slugging percentage (.705) but 21st in ERA (4.45). The month of July was particularly unkind to their relief corps as the group posted a 6.12 ERA that was worst in the AL.
Opportunity may still lie ahead for the Astros and others via waivers until Aug. 31. Justin Verlander is among the players who reportedly have been placed on revocable waivers.