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Reply To: AL Wild Card – Previews, Articles, Info. Tuesday 10/6/15

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ASTROS (Keuchel) @ YANKEES (Tanaka)

Take: YANKEES -105

I’ll preface this by stating that as of now, I’m not yet involved in this game. I definitely want to see the Yankees lineup before proceeding and I’m also anxious to see where the line goes. I’ve got a lean to be sure, but whether or not the value pushes this to a full play remains to be seen. But here’s my analysis as to how I think things might go.

I’m not particularly worried about Dallas Keuchel starting for the first time on just three days rest. He’s a sinkerball pitcher and he’s not a max effort guy. Keuchel has also pretty much owned the Yankees, so he should take the mound with a great deal of confidence.

Masahiro Tanaka is more of an unknown quantity to me. Tanaka did not look good in his last regular season start against the Red Sox. The fastball wasn’t working especially well and his splitter did not have the proper depth. If that version of Tanaka shows up tonight, he’ll still get his K’s against the swing and miss Astros. But his mistakes might also get hit a long way and that Yankee Stadium short porch in right field could definitely come into play.

Nevertheless, it won’t surprise me if good Tanaka shows up here. This guy is an ace, and he’s managed to piece together a pretty good season is spite of the balky elbow that has clearly been at least an occasional hindrance.

I want to see the Yankees lineup. I’m assuming manager Joe Girardi will start Chris Young and I’m hoping he has him leading off. Young has enjoyed some success against Keuchel and he’s simply a better option here than Brett Gardner. How Girard configures his lineup is vital from my vantage point.

I see the big edge for the Yankees in the latter portion of the game. The Betances/Miller combo is dynamic and with each guy fully capable of multiple innings, one might argue that Tanaka needs to only throw five, or six at the most, innings. If the Yanks are ahead or tied, they’re in great shape and even down one run, they’d still have an excellent chance to catch up. I do not trust the Astros bullpen and I don’t think there’s any question that they need Keuchel to go very deep in this game.

I also won’t discount the veteran presence that abounds on the Yankees. The Astros are the party crashers who’ve arrived well ahead of the projections, but they can’t match up with the Yankees in the experience department. In a one and done setting, that could be a critical component.

This isn’t a strong opinion. Keuchel is absolutely not an easy guy to try and beat, and I’m sure not overly confident about Tanaka. But I have more check marks on the home team’s side here, so I’m siding with the Yankees for the free play on this game.