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AL Wild Card Preview: Houston Astros at New York Yankees

Houston Astros @ New York Yankees
Tuesday, October 6, 7:08 PM CT
Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NY
TV: ESPN

The Astros will head to the Bronx for their first playoff appearance as an American League team against the AL team that has had the most success, the Yankees.

Starting Pitching: Keuchel vs. Tanaka

Both teams are sending out their best pitchers, Dallas Keuchel (20-8, 2.48 ERA) for Houston and Masahiro Tanaka (12-7, 3.51 ERA) for New York. Keuchel has been a much better pitcher at home, but on the road he has struggled a bit with a record of 5-8 with a 3.77 ERA. At home, Tanaka has not been spectacular, with a record of 7-4 and an ERA of 3.71. There really is not much of an edge for Tanaka pitching at home, which is something the Yankees would have liked to have had statistically. One edge Keuchel does have is how well he has pitched against the Yankees this season, going 16 shutout innings, compared to Tanaka’s pitching against the Astros (5 innings, 6 runs). Tanaka also has had only one start since being hurt in which he gave up 4 runs in 5 innings. Because of the uncertainty in Tanaka, I give the edge to Keuchel and the Astros.

Edge: Astros

Offense

Both teams have been strong this season; the Yankees scored the second most in all of baseball while the Astros scored the sixth most in baseball. It’s safe to say the pitchers will have their hands full with both teams’ lineups. The Astros have had a recent hot stretch thanks to George Springer, Chris Carter, and Colby Rasmus. One key to the Astros’ success could be Rasmus with the short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium.

The Yankees, who have a left-handed heavy lineup, is a good thing in Yankee Stadium. A majority of their home run hitters are from the left side, but they could have trouble against the left-handed Keuchel, who has only given up three home runs to lefties. The Yankees are going to need Alex Rodriguez, Carlos Beltran, and/or Chris Young to step up big against Keuchel in order to win. Young may be the guy that causes the Astros trouble as he has done plenty of times in the past. Against the Astros this season, Young has had plenty of success hitting with a slash line (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage) of .333/.375/.619 with two home runs and against Keuchel he is 2 for 7 with both hits being singles.

Because the Astros have a strikeout-heavy lineup, I do not think it will matchup well with Tanaka, but I also do not think the Yankees lefty-heavy lineup will matchup well against Keuchel.

Edge: Even

Bullpen

Both teams would not be here without the strength of their bullpens. The Yankees have had a shut down back end, but not the best middle relief or long relief. On the other hand, Houston has had a solid bullpen throughout the season, but it has not dominating in any aspect. In bullpen ERA, the Astros rank 7th with a 3.25 ERA, while the Yankees rank 16th with a 3.64 ERA. Looking at strikeout rates, the Yankees’ 10.14 strikeouts per nine innings pretty handily beat the Astros’ 9.11 K/9. Again, with an Astros’ lineup that strikes out a lot, they will struggle if they fall behind against the Yankees late. Falling behind against the Yankees after 7 innings is essentially game over, as Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller are two of the most dominant back end bullpen guys in baseball. In a one game playoff, both Betances and Miller will be leaned on heavily, and they give the edge to the Yankees late in the game.

Edge: Yankees

Prediction

Astros 3, Yankees 2

The Yankees will score a run in the 2nd and the Astros will counter with runs in the 4th and 5th. They both will go scoreless until the 8th when the Astros manufacture a run off Betances. New York will mount a rally in the eighth, but will leave the tying run in scoring position. The ninth will have a little drama, but Luke Gregerson shuts the door sending the Astros to the ALDS.


Sources

Baseball-Reference.com

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2 thoughts on “AL Wild Card Preview: Houston Astros at New York Yankees

  1. Reblogged this on The Fan's Tribune and commented:
    A more detailed breakdown of tomorrow night’s American League Wild Card game between the Houston Astros and the New York Yankees. Wouldn’t be at all surprised if the game goes exactly as they predict it to.

    Like

  2. The Yankees fan in me says that of course New York will win, but the realist says that the pitching match-up is stacked against them. Would love if you would reblog my playoff prediction as well :)
    http://www.thefanstribune.wordpress.com

    Like

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