After taking a big step backward in 2016, Houston Astros starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel is confident he can turn things around in 2017.
From the get-go, coming into spring training, it wasn't right. But I was telling myself I could push through it, and get through it, but that wasn't the case. I actually hurt the team more than helped them out, so I learned that it's OK to tell people if you're not feeling right.
It was like I was using a rubber band and shooting it to the sky to get [the baseball] 60 feet. I knew something was wrong from the get-go, and nothing helped. So at that point it was, OK, we've got to say something to the doctor.
With a full offseason to recover, Keuchel said he's feeling "like a brand new guy" and that he has taken a more diligent approach to his training to ensure he can remain healthy, per MLB.com's Brian McTaggart.
Keuchel won the American League Cy Young Award in 2015 but fell back to earth a year later. His ERA climbed over two runs from 2.48 to 4.55, and his FIP jumped from 2.91 to 3.87, per FanGraphs.
As a result of his shoulder inflammation, Keuchel's velocity declined slightly. According to Brooks Baseball, his fastball and sinker averaged 90.37 mph and 90.39 mph, respectively, in 2015 and then 89.31 mph and 89.26 mph in 2016.
The drop in velocity coincided with Keuchel's fastball and sinker flattening out. His fastball averaged a career-low 1.12 inches in horizontal movement, while his sinker averaged 6.98 inches—second-lowest since Brooks Baseball began tracking his performance in 2011. That allowed opposing hitters to have an easier time elevating Keuchel's pitches.