The mere mention of the Astros has set off warning alarms in the heads of Fantasy owners for several years. The hesitancy to take a flier on Houston pitchers, in particular, has been understandable. Their incompetence has played a huge role in the three consecutive 100-loss seasons.
Well, the times they are a-changing. The Astros are almost assuredly no threat to contend for a wild card spot, even in a season in which nearly every team hovering around .500 in both leagues are smack dab in the middle of the race. But several of their pitchers have become worthy of far greater Fantasy attention than they have received. And the improvement of their offense spurred by the influx of talent such as George Springer has resulted in those pitchers racking up frequent wins.
Oddly, opening game starter Scott Feldman is the least attractive of the bunch these days. The others have emerged as productive Fantasy options, but owners have been slow to catch on. They have all been hot long enough to earn greater attention. Here's a rundown:
Dallas Keuchel (Owned/Started %: 93/64): The tremendous run by Keuchel has spurred nearly complete ownership, but his start rate remains a bit low. After all, he's 6-2 with nine quality starts in his last 10 outings. During that stretch he has surrendered just 55 hits in 71 2/3 innings with only 13 walks and 59 strikeouts. His win total indicates strong enough run support, an issue that could be preventing Fantasy owners from sticking Keuchel in their lineups. He has been provided 5.6 runs per start during that period.
Collin McHugh (Owned/Started %: 64/44): McHugh has been one of the tougher pitchers in the game to hit over his last eight starts, during which he has racked up a 4-3 record. He has yielded just 34 hits in his last 50 innings pitched. Equally impressive over that time are his 2.51 earned run average and 54 strikeouts. Yet more than half of all Fantasy lineups are sans McHugh.
Jarred Cosart (Owned/Started % 22/12): Here's a classic example of Astros Fantasy Fear. Cosart has recorded six quality starts in his last eight outings with an ERA under 3.00 and just 45 hits in 48 2/3 innings pitched. Walks remain a concern, but 22 percent ownership is quite low for a pitcher who has performed so well for about a month-and-a-half.
Brad Peacock (Owned/Started %: 7/4): Really? OK, granted, he has come on only over the course of his last four starts. But he has struck out 28 in his last 25 1/3 innings and has significantly cut down on his walks. It remains to be seen if he continues trending up, but one can assume that those numbers would have resulted in far greater ownership if he was pitching for any other team.