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Astros Keuchel named Astros' Opening Day starter

By Paul Casella / MLB.com | March 17, 2015

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Dallas Keuchel won't have to wait long to start building off his breakout season from a year ago, as Astros manager A.J. Hinch has named the left-hander the club's Opening Day starter.

Keuchel, 27, will be making his first career Opening Day start when he takes the hill for Houston's April 6 season opener against the Indians. Hinch informed Keuchel of his decision -- along with fellow front-end-of-the-rotation starters Scott Feldman and Collin McHugh -- about "four or five days ago."

"I'm very excited and very humbled by this announcement," Keuchel said. "But like I've said before, I feel like any one of the five starters could potentially be Opening Day [starters]. I'm blessed to get the ball on the first day and kind of roll with that, so I'm looking to start out hot and pass the torch off to the other four."

"He does everything you would want in a guy that you're going to hand the ball to," Hinch said of Keuchel. "He's coming off of a great season and he's taken great steps forward in his career. ... He embodies everything you want, from my perspective, to trust him with the responsibility of Game 1 -- and for the next 30-plus starts after that."

The southpaw put together an impressive 2014 campaign in which he went 12-9 with a 2.93 ERA, while tossing an American League-best five complete games. Keuchel also took home a Gold Glove Award for his defensive work on the mound.

"It's a little bit of everything," Hinch said when asked if the Opening Day nod was a reward for Keuchel's breakout season. "[He's] certainly coming off a solid season, in which he took a great leap forward in his career. There's a lot of trust that goes into it with being a starter in general, but most notably the Opening Day starter. I had good choices and I'm very, very comfortable with our group as a whole. Dallas can just go first."

"Baseball statistics are like a girl in a bikini. They show a lot, but not everything." ...~Toby Harrah, 1983
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