On June 30 at Minute Maid Park, Royals manager Ned Yost received a front-row seat for the mastery of Houston starter Dallas Keuchel. Yost expected Keuchel to be an All-Star, and he knew the pitcher deserved consideration to start Tuesday’s Midsummer Classic. Yost set a simple scouting test.
“I’m thinking to myself, OK, if he can just go out and show me what he’s got for five good innings, and then give it up, he can probably be my starter,” Yost said during a press conference on Monday. “But he kind of threw a wrench in that deal, because he shoved it for eight innings. I don’t think we got a man in scoring position.”
Yost chose Keuchel, a 27-year-old left-hander from Tulsa, over a variety of worthy challengers. This will be Keuchel’s first All-Star appearance.
Keuchel (11-4, 2.23 ERA) has a deserving resume. He leads the American League in innings (137 1/3). He trails only Oakland starter Sonny Gray in ERA – and Yost indicated Gray could not be considered because he pitched over the weekend.
Yost also passed over White Sox southpaw Chris Sale (2.72 ERA, 11.84 strikeouts per nine), Tampa Bay starter Chris Archer (2.74 ERA, 10.84 strikeouts per nine) and Detroit ace David Price (2.38 ERA). That sterling competition was not lost on Keuchel.
“I’m definitely not as seasoned as these guys up here,” Keuchel said. “But I’m extremely excited for the opportunity. And if it were up to me, Mr. Yost, I would probably pick one of these two fellas here.”
Keuchel was pointing toward Archer and Price, who were sitting in the front row of the press conference.
“But, thank you.”