The Yankees’ season opener had to be pushed back 24 hours due to a rain out at Yankee Stadium. They had a legitimate excuse to cancel, unlike the Cleveland Indians who decided it was too cold to play baseball, ultimately calling the game. Too cold? Hm. Well anyway, that predicament probably put a wrench into the thousands of fans who were expecting to go and watch baseball. They should be able to get the Astros and Yankees in today, so no worries there. The Astros come in with plenty of hope and promise.
For the Yankees, they would be thrilled to get into the postseason this season. That scenario doesn’t seem all too promising though, or at least success in the postseason, as the Yankees look like a team with a lost identity. Now that shortstop Derek Jeter will no longer be stepping into the batter’s box, the Yanks look like a boat without a captain on board. A-Rod is a good player no doubt, but he does not evoke much characteristics of being a dealer. And the way I see it, the Yankees do not have one on the roster.
The Yankees are banking on Masahiro Tanaka to stay healthy. There has to be +1000 odds on him to play this season with no issues, because the guys arm is ready to blow up at any moment. I’m not even quite sure he’s been playing through spring training with a clean bill of health, but we’ll see how things work out today against the Houston Astros. The Astros completely flipped things around last year, ending the regular season with a record of 86-76. That was good enough to earn them a spot in the AL title game against the Yankees. Dallas Keuchel was masterful, as he was all season long and ended up outdueling Tanaka on short rest to bring the Astros to the next round.
What we have this afternoon is a rematch of that series, as the Yankees are looking to extract some revenge on Houston. This isn’t the same Astros from the past though, they are not going to roll over and play dead against the big bad Yankees. Times have changed, and the Astros are definitely worthy of being a thorn in the side of the Yanks for the foreseeable future. Let’s get right to our pick for today, after an easy winner behind the Cubs last night.
Houston Astros vs. N.Y. Yankees
Dallas Keuchel (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Masahiro Tanaka (0-0, 0.00)
Tanaka was a prized commodity several years ago, before he ever signed with the Yankees. The Yanks won the bidding war for him and thus far, are not getting a good return on their investment. He has had his moments, but they are not coming at a pace the Yankees were hoping for when they signed him. Part of the problem for Tanaka has been his shoulder. He has had problems staying healthy since he came over to the United States. From spring training baseball, there have been no indications to me that he has done anything to make Yankees’ fans excited. Tanaka threw for a 7.36 ERA this spring in four games. I know spring training isn’t a good barometer for success too often, but for guys who have always been injury prone, it’s a good way of gauging how healthy they are.
Keuchel will look for another strong season with the Astros. He has earned his way to the top of the rotation in the organization and looked great again last season. Keuchel is a major reason why the ‘Stros were able to pull the win over the Yankees in the Wild Card round of the postseason. He didn’t allow a run, as the Astros went on for 3-0 win. There are expectations for more from Houston this season. Keuchel will look to improve on a 2.48 ERA and 20-8 record a year ago. Tanaka could be fade material this season for me. That right shoulder of his is not at 100 percent and it may never be again. The Astros take care of business and defeat the Yankees once again in a rematch.
PICK: ASTROS TO WIN -130