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Astros' Keuchel starts finale vs. White Sox

HOUSTON -- Astros manager A.J. Hinch balks at using any one-game performance as a referendum on postseason roster spots or roles, but as Houston's regular season draws to a close, it is difficult to avoid assessing every individual effort through the prism of future opportunities.

Left-hander Dallas Keuchel (13-4, 2.96 ERA) will start the series finale for the Astros on Thursday against the White Sox. He is 2/3 with a 4.30 ERA in six career starts against Chicago.

Keuchel allowed eight runs, 10 hits and three walks in four innings during an 8-5 road loss to the White Sox on Aug. 8.

White Sox right-hander Carson Fulmer (2-1, 4.50 ERA) will make his fourth start of the season and the first of his career against the Astros on Thursday.

While Keuchel is safely in the Astros' playoff rotation plans, the same might not be true for Brad Peacock.

The right-hander's versatility leaves him as a viable candidate to move back to the bullpen when the postseason commences. However, as good as Peacock was in a relief role earlier this season, his performance as a starter has been equally sharp.

On Wednesday night, he allowed two runs, one hit and two walks in six strong innings in a 4-3 victory over the White Sox (60-91) that allowed the Astros (93-58) to clinch the three-game series.

With right-handers Chris Devenski and Joe Musgrove currently serving as bullpen options capable of throwing multiple innings, the role Peacock serves might depend on other Houston starters going deep into games.

"You don't really need long relief until you need it, and that can come in a lot of different ways," Hinch said. "The goal in the season and postseason is not a lot different. You want to put a good pitcher in every single time. Whether that calls for early in the game, midgame, late game, we'll take the best group that we feel like will help us win a series.

"A lot has to happen between now and then. It's not easy getting through the next (11) games and getting these guys sharp and ready to go before we have to make our decision."

All of the White Sox's current decisions are being made with an eye toward 2018. Fulmer is making the case to be in the rotation next year.

He posted his first career win as a starter on Sept. 10 against the San Francisco Giants, allowing one run and three hits in a career-high six innings while posting a career-best nine strikeouts. Fulmer followed that up with another sharp six-inning outing Friday at Detroit, where he gave up one run on four hits in a no-decision.

White Sox rookie second baseman Yoan Moncada posted his fifth multi-hit game in his past 10 starts in the series opener at Houston on Tuesday, a 3-for-4 effort, then hit a two-run homer off Peacock on Wednesday. Moncada is batting .415 on the current road trip.

Acquired in the trade that sent ace left-hander Chris Sale to the Boston Red Sox, Moncada is getting ample opportunity to showcase the talent that had him ranked near the top of most prospect lists.

"I know we've talked about him taking advantage of all the at-bats that he gets," White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. "He's obviously been seeing a lot of off-speed, secondary pitches that have been very effective against him.

"He's got a very good eye. I think he's starting to slow it down a little bit more. He's starting to recognize those pitches; he's trying not to do too much with them. He's been continuing to make those adjustments.

"It's been a good run for him. I know we've talked about the experience for him towards the end of the season and how we thought he would start to show signs of growth. I think he's doing that."

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