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Astros, Dallas Keuchel discussing contract extension

Houston is looking to make the left-hander a long-term part of its rotation.

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Astros have begun talks with left-handed pitcher Dallas Keuchel regarding a contract extension, Evan Drelich of the Houston Chronicle reports:

The 27-year-old has been strong for Houston this season, with a 2.37 ERA and 1.02 WHIP in 178⅔ innings with 156 strikeouts and just 41 walks to go with a 2.74 FIP. Keuchel has also been able to keep the ball in the park, allowing just nine home runs this season despite playing his home games in homer-friendly Minute Maid Park.

A seventh-round pick by the Astros in 2009, this is Keuchel's fourth major league season. He struggled in 2012 and 2013 with a combined ERA of 5.20 in 239 innings before breaking out last season with a 2.93 ERA in 200 innings of work, walking 48 and striking out 146.

Keuchel is still making the league minimum this season, as 2016 will be the first time he is arbitration-eligible. He will not be a free agent until after 2018, his age 30 season. The extension he is currently discussing with he Astros could be a lengthy one to buy out his early years of free agency, or it could be a shorter-term deal buy out his arbitration years, giving financial certainty to both him and his team.

Going forward, the Astros will be counting on Keuchel along with Mike Fiers, who they recently acquired from Milwaukee along with outfielder Carlos Gomez, to lead rotation that will consist of several young pitchers, including Lance McCullers Jr. and Vincent Velasquez, both of whom debuted in the big leagues this season, as well as top prospect Mark Appel, who could make his debut when rosters expand in September.