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Series Preview: Houston Astros at New York Yankees, April 5-7, 2016

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Astros open the 2016 season with the team it defeated in the 2015 American League Wild Card game.

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

It was an Opening Day deferred for the New York Yankees and the Houston Astros. Major League Baseball had the clairvoyant idea to have an Opening Day game on the Eastern Seaboard in April, resulting in the actual Opening Day getting rained out on Monday. But the schedule easily allows the game to be slide back to Tuesday.

Now the Yankees ground crew is cracking the ice on the field before the 12:05 start for Opening Day. It's as if the Yankees are attempting to delay the game as much as possible. But when it does finally start, Dallas Keuchel will once again be the pitcher the Yankees face. Keuchel finished the Yankees season in 2015 in the American League Wild Card Game. Keuchel shut out the Yankees for six innings along the way to the Astros' 3-0 victory.

Both teams trot out a very similar lineup and the exact same pitching duel in the Opening Day rematch.

Pitching

Spring Training Stats

Tuesday: LHP Dallas Keuchel (1-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.53 WHIP) vs. RHP Masahiro Tanaka (1-1, 7.36 ERA, 1.64 WHIP)

Thursday: RHP Collin McHugh (1-1, 4.61 ERA, 1.32 WHIP) vs. RHP Michael Pineda (1-1, 4.50 ERA, 1.07 WHIP)

Wednesday: RHP Mike Fiers (0-0, 4.91 ERA, 1.36 WHIP) vs. RHP Nathan Eovaldi (1-1, 3.07 ERA, 1.50 WHIP)

Dallas Keuchel returns to the scene of the crime in New York after shutting out the Yankees in the 2015 Wild Card game for six innings. Keuchel was 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA in two starts (16 innings) against the Yankees last season. Masahiro Tanaka will make the Opening Day start after having offseason surgery to remove a bone spur in his elbow. Tanaka finished Spring Training by giving up seven runs over four innings on March 23 against Washington.

Collin McHugh proved to be a solid No. 2 option for the Astros in 2015 as he won 19 games last season. In his career, McHugh has been just as sharp as Keuchel -- he is 2-0 with a 1.88 ERA in two career starts against the Yankees. Pineda was 0-2 with a 5.11 ERA against Houston last season.

Mike Fiers misses a return to Milwaukee next series to start in New York. It will be his first start against the Bronx Bombers. Fiers was 2-1 with a 3.32 ERA in 10 starts with the Astros last season. Houston native Nathan Eovaldi missed the Astros last season but is 1-0 with a 0.90 ERA in three career starts against the Astros.

Batting

The Astros lineup is almost the same exact lineup run out in the Wild Card game. Houston removes Chris Carter and inserts Tyler White and Marwin Gonzalez. Gonzalez will get a nod on Opening Day and White will start in game two.

White is batting .353 (18x51) with three home runs and 12 RBIs this Spring. Also hot this spring was Carlos Correa. Correa batted .378 (17x45) with four home runs and nine RBIs. Marwin Gonzalez batted (13x42) with four home runs and eight RBIs. Altuve and Correa have a home run in their careers against Tanaka.

The only new addition for the Yankees is Starlin Castro. Castro was traded by the Chicago Cubs for Adam Warren and Brendan Ryan. Castro moves over from shortstop to second base as he had down with the Cubs. Castro was sharp this spring, batting .367 (18x49) with two home runs and 11 RBIs. Briann McCann batted .333 (13x39) with four doubles this spring.

Carlos Beltran is batting .444 (4x9) with a double and a home run in his career against Keuchel. Chase Headly and Aaron

Prediction

Keuchel and McHugh = two wins. Fiers will pitch well but the Yankees will take one.