HOUSTON -- After battling through left shoulder inflammation for much of last season, Astros ace Dallas Keuchel finally spoke up in late August and was shut down for the final month. He wasn't about to let another injury linger this time around.
The Astros placed Keuchel on the 10-day disabled list on Saturday with a pinched nerve in his neck. He met with team doctors on Thursday in Houston and underwent an MRI, which showed inflammation of a nerve in his neck. He's only expected to miss one start, which means he could return to the rotation on May 27 to face the Orioles at Minute Maid Park.
Left-handed relief pitcher Ashur Tolliver was called up from Triple-A Fresno.
"Nobody wants to be hurt or miss time, so that was kind of the double-edged sword," Keuchel said. "I said something, but it wasn't good. I don't anticipate this being a lengthy issue. It takes a lot for me to say something."
Right-hander Brad Peacock will start in Keuchel's place on Monday against the Tigers. Keuchel said he made it through his start on Tuesday in Miami fine, but had trouble sleeping that night and eventually felt discomfort in his neck. He told the team on the flight home from Miami he didn't feel quite right.
"With the position we're in right now, I don't like to miss any time. But this is probably the best-case scenario to be a little bit more precautionary than usual," said Keuchel. "If I had to, I could probably go out there and pitch. But, like I said, with the position we're in right now, this is probably the best way to go about it."
Keuchel has been terrific this season, going 7-0 with a 1.84 ERA in nine starts. He leads the American League in wins and ERA, ranks second in innings pitched and WHIP (0.86) and third in batting average allowed (.186). In 63 2/3 innings, Keuchel has allowed 41 hits, 13 earned runs 14 walks and struck out 54.
"It's never good when you lose one of your best players or your best pitchers, and he's got to take a step back," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "We feel like we have everything under control -- and we're going to do what's best for him and best for our team and put him on the DL. It's unfortunate. Every team has to deal with something like this at some point in their season, sometimes more than once with different players. It's the nature of the business."
Tolliver has posted a 2.70 ERA with a .152 opponents' batting average in 10 relief appearances with Fresno this season.
"We were pretty excited about him in the spring [due to] our lack of left-handed depth in the bullpen," Hinch said. "We liked his velocity and his stuff. He's got real stuff that can impact hitters. He's had a hard time harnessing it. We've [seen] a little bit of both good and bad at Triple-A. ... Maybe [whenever he gets] an opportunity against a predominantly left-handed lineup, if he gets in there, he should have an advantage."