Yankees hurler Tanaka to start ACLS Game 1 in Houston

Yankees hurler Tanaka to start ACLS Game 1 in Houston

"They've got high-end velocity", Hinch said.

Dallas Keuchel, who will start Game 1 for Houston, has absolutely flummoxed current Yankee hitters, holding them to a.181/.214/.287 slash line.

"I don't think anyone who goes through a season has a flawless season", Judge said. But he was quick to point out that Keuchel's success certainly hasn't been limited to games against NY.

After getting one out on October 3 in the AL wild-card game against the Minnesota Twins, he bounced back Monday to strike out nine and throw 113 pitches. He allowed three hits and struck out seven in seven scoreless innings in a 1-0 victory.

"His stuff was great the other day, he's had some really big starts, his last two starts have been outstanding", manager Joe Girardi said. Surely, the Astros were taking notes.

"It is about the Astros versus the Yankees", Judge said.

Bellinger, the likely NL Rookie of the Year, had 39 regular-season homers but was one-for-12 in the series before his opposite-field homer made it 2-0 in the fifth inning. They beat the Yankees five out of the seven times they played this year. The last time the Astros got this far, it was 2005 - and they were in the National League. Both of these pitchers would certainly have changed the WAR calculus had they been on their teams all season.

A exhausted bullpen for the Yankees will spell a lot of trouble in the series, even they still manage a Game 1 win. While the Yanks were embarking on their improbable comeback against the Indians, the Astros were at home eating popcorn.

Houston will be playing for the first time in four days.

Whether or not Houston "deserves" to win the series, of course, has nothing to do with what will actually happen.

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Tanaka pitched a stellar outing in Game 3 of the ALDS against the Indians when the Yankees were facing elimination.

The victory was not without drama, forcing a game five after winning two in a row.

He built off that in his first start this postseason when he yielded three hits and a run in 5 2/3 innings to help Houston to an 8-2 win over the Red Sox in Game 2 of the ALDS.

"When you think about the way he's been pitching lately, you think about him having the possibility of making two starts in a series". But when you you look at the fact that the Yankees scored 5.9 runs per game on average against 6.1 for the Astros and you see that we're going to have to dig deeper than their season records.

"I have a ton of confidence in him", Girardi said of Tanaka.

The matchup that matters most: It's the postseason, so the bullpens will be a series-long storyline.

The manager that clearly figured the best strategy out and used the "starter-in-relief" idea most efficiently was Indians skipper Terry Francona. Even if they lost Game 4, his ace Kluber would pitch Game 5.

While the Astros have a pitching staff full of flamethrowers - bolstered by the addition of former Cy Young Award victor Justin Verlander in August - they have chosen lefty Dallas Keuchel, the softest-tossing pitcher on their staff (88.7 miles per hour average fastball), to start Game 1 for them Friday night, opposite Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka. Yankees hitters are 19-for-103 (.184) with four walks and 35 strikeouts against him. "But when I was behind the scenes and got to see these young guys play, perform and the way (Aaron) Judge came out this year, it's no surprise they're in the position they're in". "But I think it's just a coincidence that my command and location have been better than what it usually is against them". NY came back from a 2-0 series deficit in the ALDS, beating the Cleveland Indians on the road in a deciding Game 5.

Francona named Bauer his Game 1 starter, followed by the likely Cy Young victor Kluber for Game 2. Not only is Keuchel 3-1 with a 2.28 ERA over his past four starts, including a win over Boston in Game 2, but he is also arguably the most prolific Yankee-slayer among starting pitchers in modern times. This isn't the time to start betting against them.

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