An article appeared last week in the Houston Chronicle stating that former Astros’   southpaw pitcher Dallas Keuchel is still unsigned for the 2019 Major League Baseball season, despite getting numerous offers from other teams.

The 31-year old former ace of the Astros’ pitching staff decided at the end of the 2018 season that he was worth more than the one-year, $17.9 million qualifying offer by his former team.

Keuchel, whose 12-11 record and 3.74 ERA last season was nowhere near the 20-8, 2.48 ERA that won him the Cy Young Award in 2015, believes he’s worth more than what the Astros’ offered him. He’s still waiting for an acceptable offer from some major league team.

But with the season seven weeks old, most franchises are set with their starting rotation and aren’t willing to part with major bucks for a pitcher who hasn’t worked competitively since last September.

Another drawback facing Keuchel is the fact that any team signing him before June 2 would have to forfeit a draft pick, according to MLB rules. Keuchel feels confident that he’ll find more acceptable terms after that date.

And he’s not just sitting around sipping on brews every day. Far from it, as he keeps his own workout schedule as if he were pitching every five days. He culminates his workout schedule with a 90-pitch game-like session every five days.

Keuchel promises that he won’t follow in the footsteps of Pittsburgh Steelers’ star running back Le’Veon Bell, who held out the entire 2018 season and was finally traded at the end of the season.

However, the 2019 edition of the Houston Astros is playing lights-out without Keuchel on the roster. They just completed a seven-games home stand Sunday in which they won six games, including a four-game sweep of the rival Texas Rangers at Minute Maid Park.

The first two batters in Houston’s lineup Sunday—George Springer and Alex Bregman–had a combined four home runs, seven runs, eight hits and nine RBIs as the Astros annihilated the Rangers 15-5.

The team perhaps could have used Keuchel Sunday because they dipped down into their Class AAA franchise at Round Rock and purchased the contract of former Texas Aggie hurler Corbin Martin, who protected the huge early lead by only allowing two runs and three hits in 5 1/3 innings to post his first major league mound victory.

The Astros left for a three-game series at Detroit which began Monday night, boasting a 6 ½-game lead over the LA Angels in the AL West Division.

Astro players are near the top of every offensive category in the American League  statistics through Sunday’s action. Springer leads the league in home runs (15), RBI’s (37) and runs scored (35), and is tied with newcomer Michael Brantley, the league’s third-best hitter (.331) with 51 base hits each.

The Houston pitchers also fare pretty well in the league with Gerrit Cole leading the major leagues with 86 strikeouts while Jason Verlander’s 6-1 record and 2.52 ERA both rank third in the AL.

Let’s hope Keuchel hooks up with a team as good as Houston if and when he is offered what he thinks he is worth and comes out with a 2019 contract as fat as Le’Veon Bell’s.

KWICKIES…The second major golf tournament of the year—the PGA Championship– begins tomorrow at Bethpage (NY) as Brooks Koepka defends his 2018 title.

And while on the subject of PGA Tour events, Sung Kang sunk a 23-foot birdie on the 15th hole to take the lead he never relinquished and went on to win the rain-plagued Byron Nelson by two strokes over Scott Piercy and Matt Every. It was the first PGA Tour victory for the 31-year-old South Korean.

Congrats to Little Cypress-Mauriceville’s talented distance runner Eli Peveto who captured silver medals in both the 1600 and 3200 runs last week at the state track meet.

Southeast Texas high school football fans were saddened last weekend by the death of Newton head football coach W.T. Johnston, who led the Eagles to consecutive Class AAA state championships the past two seasons. He was diagnosed with lung disease and had complications after a double-lung transplant in 2015.

Only one Orange County baseball team, the Orangefield Bobcats, remains in the state tournament. The Bobcats will travel to meet Pollock tomorrow at 6 p.m. and return home to play the second game at Orangefield at 3 p.m. Saturday. A third game, if necessary, will follow Game 2. The winner will play the winner between Grandview and Troy.

Other area baseball teams playing the best-of-three series this week include Kirbyville vs. Palacios at Pearland, Hardin-Jefferson vs. Huffman at Anahuac, Evadale vs. Thrall at Tomball and PNG vs Nederland.

JUST BETWEEN US…Let’s hope the Army West Point baseball team duplicates last year’s results against Navy and wins the Patriot Conference Championships this weekend at Annapolis. The best-of-three series begins Friday at 6 p.m., continues Saturday at 1 p.m. and Sunday (if necessary) at 1 p.m. My grandson Logan Smith is expected to see action in the series after two strong mound performances last week. He came in for the last two innings to save a 10-7 Army lead but his teammates hosed him out of the save by scoring six runs to win 16-7. Army needed three games to subdue Holy Cross last weekend in the conference semifinals with Logan entering the game with his team trailing 6-1 and finished the final three innings with the Black Knights losing 6-4. The winner of the Army-Navy series gets and automatic bid into the NCAA baseball playoffs next week.