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Keuchel won't rush return from neck issue

MLB.com

HOUSTON -- With the Astros 12 games ahead in the American League West, Houston ace Dallas Keuchel said now is the best time to fix his lingering neck issue, limiting as much as possible any damage from his absence.

Keuchel hit the 10-day disabled list on Thursday after being scratched from his start on Wednesday in Kansas City. Saturday morning, Keuchel said he will not throw for roughly a week and expects to miss one to two starts, at best, after an MRI revealed lingering inflammation in his neck.

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HOUSTON -- With the Astros 12 games ahead in the American League West, Houston ace Dallas Keuchel said now is the best time to fix his lingering neck issue, limiting as much as possible any damage from his absence.

Keuchel hit the 10-day disabled list on Thursday after being scratched from his start on Wednesday in Kansas City. Saturday morning, Keuchel said he will not throw for roughly a week and expects to miss one to two starts, at best, after an MRI revealed lingering inflammation in his neck.

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"At this point, I didn't want to push it and have to revisit it later," Keuchel said. "So I decided to shut it down, and here we are. It's kind of a bad spot to put the bullpen in. I didn't really know how I was going to feel until I started to warm up [on Wednesday]. I wanted to do something now and not revisit later in the season when we're getting ready for the playoffs and hopefully playing in October."

As of Saturday morning, Keuchel led the Majors in ERA at 1.67, and his nine wins -- against zero losses -- are the best in MLB. This stint on the DL, which is retroactive to June 5, is Keuchel's second since May 17, when he was initially set back with neck discomfort.

Keuchel returned from his first stint on the DL on May 27, to start against Baltimore. But given the recurrence of the injury, in hindsight he said he likely should have missed one more start.

If he had to, Keuchel said he could pitch, but with the Astros' division lead and the best record in baseball, why rush it, he said.

"If I really had to push it, I probably could," Keuchel said. "But it's not something I want to keep re-aggravating every time I go out there every five days, so I want to nip it in the bud right now and make sure it's fully gone. And get back out there and enjoy being healthy. ... Hopefully one or two starts here doesn't hurt us too bad."

Astros manager A.J. Hinch had no timetable for Keuchel's return and was unsure when Keuchel would begin his throwing program to return to the starting rotation.

"We'll listen to the doctors," Hinch said. "We'll wait a week and see what happens."

The Astros are expecting starting pitcher Joe Musgrove (shoulder discomfort) to be reinstated from the disabled list to start on Monday against the Rangers.

Christian Boutwell is a reporter for MLB.com.

Houston Astros, Dallas Keuchel