2017 American League Championship Series, Game 1
Houston Astros (0-0) vs. New York Yankees (0-0), Oct. 13, 2017, 7:08 p.m. CDT
Location: Minute Maid Park, Houston, TX
Radio: stream on MLB At Bat app, 790 KBME AM, ESPN Deportes 1230
Online: MLB.TV, Fox Sports Go
Yankees SBNation Blog: Pinstripe Alley
LHP Dallas Keuchel (14-5, 2.90 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, .256 BABIP, 3.32 xFIP) vs. RHP Masahiro Tanaka (13-12, 4.74 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, .305 BABIP, 3.44 xFIP)
LETS RUN IT BACK. Does it count to say that if the game was two year ago? Whatever. The Houston Astros and New York Yankees are facing off with a ticket to the 2017 World Series on the line.
In game one, the Astros-Yankees have a rematch on the mound of the 2015 American League Wild Card Game. The Astros won that game 3-0 behind six scoreless inning form Dallas Keuchel.
If the Astros can get one more start like that, they’ll be well on their way to the big dance.
As the preview has already mentioned. It is Keuchel vs. Tanaka. But the question is how are the pitching entering the start on Friday?
For Keuchel, he has looked like his old self on the mound to finish the season. He was strong in September (3-2, 2.87 ERA in 5 GS) and was solid in Game 2 of the ALDS against Boston, allowing one earned run over 5 2⁄3 innings.
In one start in 2017 against New York, Keuchel pitched six scoreless innings in a win on May 11.
Tanaka was 3-2 with a 4.99 ERA in five starts during the month of September and rounded back into his dominant form in one playoff start thus far — allowing no runs on three hits over seven innings in Game 3 of the ALDS with the Indians.
But Tanaka has struggled on the road in 2017, he is 4-7 with a 6.48 ERA in 15 starts.
Tanaka had his shortest outing of the 2017 season against Houston, he allowed eight runs on seven hits over 1 2⁄3 innings before being pulled on May 14.
Chase Headley leads the Yankees with 22 career at-bats against Keuchel, he a home run and a double. Aaron Judge is 0-for-3 with one strikeout. Starlin Castro is 2-for-14 with eight strikeouts against the Astros lefty.
Yankees career stats against Keuchel
Carlos Correa has owned Tanaka, he 5-for-10 with two home runs. Jose Altuve is 4-for-11 with a home run. No Astro has more than one strikeout against Tanaka, to be more specific Houston has eight strikeouts in 59 at-bats.
Astros career stats against Tanaka
Keys to success
Carlos Correa sees Masahiro Tanaka well, like real well. Correa is 5-for-10 with two home runs against the Japanese import. Correa is already hitting well in the playoffs, he is batting .235 (4x17) with two home runs and six RBIs.
Correa will get plenty of chances to drive in runs batting the No. 4 hole.
I don’t think it’s fair to add Keuchel here. But the numbers are too good. Houston is conformable to go with Keuchel rather than Verlander in game one because he owns the Yankees.
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.
Two 6-plus inning starts by Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander will be huge for the Astros. Houston needs deep starts by their two aces to have an advantage in game three and four to go to their bullpen early.
Houston will not likely win a bullpen war with the Yankees. But their start pitching can balance the field.