Dallas Buyers' Club
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Move over Tim Hudson, Houston Astros starter Dallas Keuchel is the new king of the ground ball.

Keuchel earned his first career shutout Tuesday night against the Texas Rangers, and he ended it fittingly with a ground-ball double play.

The left-hander had 15 ground balls and just four fly balls in the game, and he struck out seven Rangers while walking none and scattering seven hits, six of which were singles.

Next to a strikeout, a ground ball is a pitcher's best friend.

A ground ball has never left the park for a home run, and the only way a ground ball ends up as more than a single is if it is hit down either base line.

Keuchel leads the majors with a ground-ball rate of 65.1 percent, slightly ahead of Justin Masterson's 63.2 percent and Hudson's 61.7 percent.

Hudson has made a career out of getting hitters to ground out. His career rate is 58.6 percent and he has allowed just 224 home runs in 2874 career innings (0.70 HR/9).

Keuchel has allowed 0.68 HR/9 this season and his ERA is 3.06.

His No. 1 pitch, a sinker, has induced a ground ball a ridiculous 82.9 percent of the times it has been put into play this season. He's thrown a sinker on 38.3 percent of his pitches.

Keuchel has been much sharper in 2014 than he was a year ago, when he went 6-10 with a 5.15 ERA, a 7.20 K/9 and a 3.05 BB/9.

He's issued only 11 free passes and struck out 47 batters in 53 innings this season.

An improved chase rate (31.7 percent in 2013, 36 percent in 2014) is behind his progression.

A .340 batting average on balls in play (BABIP) was also one of the reasons he struggled in 2013. This year, he's right around the MLB average with a .297 BABIP.

Over his last seven starts, Keuchel has gone 4-1 with a 2.63 ERA, a 1.02 WHIP and a 42/9 K/BB in 48 innings.

He's done that even though the Astros sport the worst defense in baseball, logging a UZR of minus-27.4, 7.2 runs worse than the 29th-place team.

When his start ended Tuesday night, his ownership rate in Yahoo! leagues was 9 percent. It's up to 13 percent Wednesday, which is still entirely too low.

Fantasy owners need to join the Dallas Buyers' Club.




Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Thomas J. Harrigan at tharrigan@sportsnetwork.com.