Major League Baseball playoffs: AJ Hinch feels Keuchel, Verlander give Astros 'huge advantage'

Ross Houston
October 13, 2017

Dallas Keuchel, who will start Game 1 for Houston, has absolutely flummoxed current Yankee hitters, holding them to a.181/.214/.287 slash line. Masahiro Tanaka will pitch for NY, which is in the championship series for the first time since 2012. I think this will be one to remember for a long time.

It's a grind for any team, but by the time they arrived in Houston, the ALDS was behind the Yankees.

Justin Verlander has a 1.88 ERA in his last nine postseason starts dating back to 2012. He joked that the lefty will probably feel better when he takes the mound and sees players in Yankees uniforms.

Game 3, at NY.

"We get out to a 2-0 (series) lead, and then you come to Fenway and it's just a different animal". Yes, they scored seven runs in Game 4 and five in Game 5, but two of those runs in the clincher came in the ninth inning to give the team some breathing room. Counting the AL Wild Card game, the Yankees have survived elimination in four games. It will feature the new major league record-holder for most home runs by a rookie, New York's Aaron Judge (52), and six of the top 15 sluggers, by slugging percentage, in the A.L. It will feature the hardest-throwing pitcher in history, Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman, and the two top candidates for league most valuable player, Judge and Houston's Jose Altuve.

"I can recall Masahiro Tanaka saying through his interpreter after Game 3, 'We are going to win Game 4 then go back to Cleveland and take care of business.' It showed vast confidence even though they were down 1-2".

Verlander may be the one who gets them there.

Hinch sees Keuchel and Verlander as 1A and 1B in his rotation, so who pitched first wasn't that big of a deal to him.

The choice of Keuchel to start Game 1 was an easy one, especially after the Astros needed Verlander for 40 pitches in relief in their decisive Game 4 win at Boston on Monday. "So I have all the confidence in the world".

Masahiro Tanaka (13-12, 4.74) vs.

It's worth noting that Yankees relievers have pitched 46.6% of New York's innings so far this postseason, so it's fair to start worrying at some point about overuse.

The Red Sox will counter with Drew Pomeranz, who won a career-high 17 games and posted a 3.32 ERA during the regular season. Charlie Morton will presumably start one of the games, but it's not clear yet whether Brad Peacock will get one after his atrocious outing in Game 3 against Boston. He allowed just three hits in seven scoreless innings in his second career postseason game.

"He's just faced a really good team when it comes to their pitching staff", Yankees manager Joe Girardi said on Thursday.

"A couple of big home runs and a lock-down bullpen got them a few wins", Astros Manager A.J. Hinch said of the Yankees.

"It's good to watch, it's very refreshing to watch", said Beltran, who was sent from NY to Texas at the trade deadline last summer and then returned to Houston in free agency. Jose Altuve was my pick for AL MVP and he's not proving my decision wrong so far, as he's hitting.533/.632/1.133 so far this postseason.

Altuve has kept up his blistering pace in the postseason, where he's hitting.533 with three homers and four RBIs. Four of those strikeouts Wednesday night belonged to Judge, who hit just.050 with 16 strikeouts in 20 at-bats in the series. "So just keep playing my game, keep having fun. just contribute any way I can". Left-hander CC Sabathia will start Game 3 when the series moves to NY, and right-hander Sonny Gray will pitch Game 4.

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