The MLB postseason begins tonight in of all places, Yankee Stadium. While this is technically a postseason game, I look at it more so as a play-in game. MLB instituted the Wild Card round a couple of years ago, and from a fan perspective the do or die scenario is pretty neat for baseball. However, I still don’t see it as the playoffs in the greater sense of the word. Nevertheless, it affords us more opportunities to make money and I am always happy with that. The Yankees were unable to catch the Blue Jays to win the division, so a Wild Card game against the Houston Astros is their consolation prize. The Blue Jays outpaced the Yankees for the entire second half, without the Yanks posing much of a serious threat. The Jays took care of the Yankees and the head-to-head meetings, which essentially solidified New York’s fate as a Wild Card team. They luckily do get home field at Yankee Stadium for this one, but there is a good team on the other side that is looking to crash the party in New York.
The Houston Astros improbable run this season leads up to the AL Wild Card game against the Yankees in New York. The Astros transformed from being one of the worst teams in all of baseball last season, to one of the best in 2015. Their start to the season was an impressive romp, spearheaded by strong pitcher and a core of young, productive hitters. The future is bright for the Astros, but they don’t want to wait to get going, they can do it tonight against the Yankees.
The Astros sent out Dallas Keuchel to the mound, a pitcher that burst onto the scene last season with tremendous results. His name doesn’t have the same ring to as does say a Clayton Kershaw, but it should be thrown around in the arena as one the best pitchers today. Not quite in that group of tier 1 hurlers, but he is certainly getting close and just on the edge. He finished last season with a 2.93 ERA and improved on it this season. The Yankees will go with Masahiro Tanaka to counter Keuchel. There isn’t a better way to get the postseason started than at Yankee Stadium. Let’s get it going, and hopefully it results in a profitable time of year for us.
Houston Astros vs. N.Y. Yankees
Dallas Keuchel (20-8, 2.48 ERA) vs. Masahiro Tanaka (12-7, 3.51)
The Astros feel confident that Keuchel can bring them to the next round. However, Keuchel is going to be going on only three days rest in this one. We all know of the marvelous thing Madison Bumgarner did for the San Francisco Giants last season going on no rest in the postseason, but are we sure Keuchel can do something similar? Most pitchers are on a routine, their arms have been programmed to know what the schedule is. We are going to see how he fairs on short rest, but it is still the Astros best option in this game. In a win or go home scenario, the Astros have to absolutely go with Keuchel. He has been vulnerable on the road compared to home. That wonderful 2.48 ERA is due in large part to the 1.46 ERA he has at home. On the road Keuchel has a 3.77 ERA. Pitchers on three days rest since 2000 are 20-34.
This will be Tanaka’s second start since leaving with a strained hamstring a few weeks back. Tanaka didn’t look great in that one start, allowing 4 runs in only 5 innings pitched. I see Tanaka as damaged goods at this point. He without a doubt won’t be pitching at 100 percent in this game, but the Yankees’ rotation is so weak that Tanaka may be their best option. Although, I think Luis Severino would have been better served getting the start here. But Tanaka is getting the big bucks to win games. This is what will do the Yankees in, even if they advance past the Wild Card round tonight a weak rotation will catch up to them. Tanaka got rocked against the ‘Stros back in June, allowing 6 runs in 5 innings for a 10.80 ERA. The Astros tied with the Blue Jays for home runs in the AL. Tanaka has surrendered 17 of his 25 long balls at Yankee Stadium. I can make a case for both sides in this one, but with a low total of 7, I think the best option is taking the OVER. Tanaka is playing hurt, Keuchel is playing on a tired arm.
PICK: OVER 7 RUNS (-115)