Earlier this week, I questioned Houston Astros manager A.J. Hinch’s move to go with Justin Verlander out of the pen in Game 4 of the American League Division Series. The crux of my point was messing up Verlander for Game 1 of the American League Champion Series was big gamble.
And before the Astros have even played Game 1, I’m ready to admit I was wrong. I had forgotten the face of Astro father (Sidebar: screw the Dark Tower movie), my faith in Dallas Keuchel had wavered.
Keuchel’s back issues and struggles this season made Astros fans want a starting pitcher like Justin Verlander. And Verlander was the clear No.1 option entering the playoffs.
Who can blame someone for worrying about a pitcher that was 2-3 5.05 ERA in six starts during the month of August? Keuchel wasn’t the same after missing the majority of June and July.
But Keuchel finished the season strong in September with a 3-2 record and a 2.87 ERA in five starts.
And Keuchel has been nails against the Yankees and the playoff for that matter.
The Astros lefty is 4-2 with a 1.41 ERA in six career starts against New York, including six scoreless inning in a 2017 win.
As a starter in the playoffs, Keuchel has allowed two earned runs over 18 2⁄3 innings. That includes a masterful 2015 Wild Card Game against these Yankees, in which he pitched six scoreless innings.
Not to forget, the dominance that Keuchel has shown at home throughout his career. In 81 games (75 starts) at Minute Maid Park, Keuchel is 36-21 with a 2.94 ERA. In 2017 alone, he is 6-3 with a 2.26 ERA in 11 starts at the Juice Box.
I admit was all in on the new hotness of Verlander. It’s only right to have Keuchel game one, especially with Tanaka on the mound for the Yankees. Just think of the New York media headlines after game one if Houston wins?