ANAHEIM -- Astros fans who spent much of the past six weeks frantically voting to try to get second baseman Jose Altuve into the starting lineup for the July 15 All-Star Game now have a chance to send Dallas Keuchel to Minneapolis as well.
Keuchel, who has been the Astros' top starting pitcher this season, is one of five American League players -- joining Cleveland's Corey Kluber, Detroit's Rick Porcello, Chicago's Chris Sale and Los Angeles' Garrett Richards -- who will take part in the Final Vote, where fans decide who gets the last roster spot. He's certainly deserving of his first All-Star nod, going 8-5 with a 3.06 ERA in 16 starts this year, including three complete games.
"I was a little surprised to even be mentioned," Keuchel said. "I was actually going to book a flight to go back home for the All-Star break, and I talked to my parents, and they said, 'Just in case something happens, don't do it.' Sure enough, [Houston manager Bo Porter] told me I was going to be one of the five finalists for the Final Vote."
Porter said Keuchel had done enough to be the first Astros pitcher to be selected to the All-Star Game since Roy Oswalt in 2007. Houston hasn't had a lefty participate in the Midsummer Classic since Billy Wagner in 2003.
"I encourage our fans to go out and vote, and I'm pretty sure all of his teammates and the coaching staff, we're all going to vote for him," Porter said. "I hope he's selected as that final player, because it's much deserving for him."
Altuve, who was elected to his second All-Star Game in voting by the players, could be Keuchel's campaign manager.
"I'm going to do everything I can to vote him into the All-Star Game, because he deserves to be there," he said.
Immediately following the announcement of the AL and National League All-Star rosters on Sunday, fans began voting to select the final player for each league's 34-man roster via the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote Sponsored by Experian. Fans can cast their votes from a list of five players from each league until the winners are announced after the voting concludes on Thursday at 3 p.m. CT.
Here are five reasons why Keuchel should win the AL Final Vote and a spot on the AL All-Star Game roster:
1. His body of work. Keuchel was one of the top starters in the AL in the first half, including an impressive 12-game stretch from April 10 until June 11 in which he was 8-2 with a 2.10 ERA and two complete games. He had 11 quality starts with a WHIP of 0.95 in that stretch.
2. He knows the NL pretty well. Keuchel made 16 starts in the NL in his rookie season of 2012, when the Astros were in their final season in the NL. He went 3-8 that season, but he's had some success in his career against guys like Andrew McCutchen (.125 batting average).
3. He's pitched well at Target Field. Sure, it was only one start, but Keuchel looked at home on the Target Field mound on June 6, when he threw six scoreless innings, allowing only five hits, in Houston's 5-4 win over Minnesota. That's his only career start in Minneapolis.
4. He's a southpaw. If AL manager John Farrell will be looking for someone to come into a game and play a lefty-on-lefty matchup at some point, Keuchel could be ideal for that role. Lefties are hitting .232 against him this year.
5. If you need a ground ball, Keuchel is your guy. Keuchel leads the Major Leagues with a 3.67 ground ball-to-fly ball ratio, so he's going to keep the ball on the ground more than anyone else. To that end, he's only allowed six homers this year.
In addition to the web, fans can use their mobile phones to cast votes via the mobile web at MLB.com/vote or via text message. To receive the All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote Sponsored by Experian mobile ballot, text the word "VOTE" to 89269. To vote for a specific player, fans can text the choice to 89269. Example: Text "A1" to vote for Keuchel. Standard message and data rates may apply. Text "STOP" to end and "HELP" for information. Mobile voting in Canada also is available and fans should text their choices to 101010.
For the third consecutive year, the All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote will include social balloting participation, as Twitter support from the 10 candidates' fans over the last six hours of balloting will count toward their final vote totals. From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. CT on Thursday, any tweet that includes a designated player hashtag (#VoteKeuchel) will be tabulated as part of the official vote total used to determine the winners. Fans will be able to follow @MLB for the latest standings updates over the course of the entire four-day voting period.
The voting doesn't end with the Final Vote. The final phase of All-Star Game voting will again have fans help choose the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. During the Midsummer Classic, fans will vote exclusively online at MLB.com and via Twitter in the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote Sponsored by Pepsi, and their collective voice will represent 20 percent of the overall vote that determines the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.
MLB.TV Premium subscribers, for the first time, will be able to live stream the All-Star Game via MLB.TV through FOX's participating video providers. Access will be available across more than 400 platforms that support MLB.TV, including the award-winning MLB.com At Bat app. MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage of the All-Star Week festivities.
The 85th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and SiriusXM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com