Say what you want about the rule changes Major League Baseball has discussed, and subsequently, in the last few years. The Wild Card round to get the playoffs started was a huge win. As will always be the case, we’ll indulge in two great games before the Divisional round begins Thursday.
The Yankees return to the playoffs for the first time since 2012 when they were ousted by Detroit in a fifth game at Yankee Stadium. The Yanks will have the home-field advantage this time around after finishing ahead of Houston in the Wild Card standings. Though the media debated about who to start in the single-elimination game on Tuesday night, it isn’t surprising New York will give the ball to their ace Masahiro Tanaka. Tanaka battled injuries again but turned in a great season, going 12-7. What’s unusual about his numbers is the discrepancy between his good, but not great 3.51 ERA and his elite 0.99 WHIP. Maybe it suggests some tough luck (though there are better metrics to identify such) or maybe he’s struggled with the home run ball. Check the 25 dingers allowed in 24 starts and you have your answer. Everyone knows the Astros thrive on the homer, which would make the matchup appear favorable for the roadies. I’m not sure it’s as simple as regular season Tanaka being playoff Tanaka. Typically aces will alleviate the mistakes that may happen more frequently in the regular season. I expect as much from Tanaka tonight.
Tonight will feature some history when Houston makes its first playoff appearance as an AL team after its realignment last year. Dallas Keuchel makes his first playoff start ever and it comes against a struggling New York lineup. Losers of six of seven coming into tonight, the Yankees scored just 23 runs in that stretch. They sorely miss their resurgent slugger Mark Teixeira and may find themselves in a tight low-scoring game going against Keuchel after his 20 win, 1.02 WHIP and possible Cy Young-Winning season.
Would have liked to get this one when it was 7.5 but under 7.0 is good enough for me. Let’s keep it under.
Free Pick: Under 7 +100
YTD: 25-22-5 -2.06
2014: 45-28-3 +9.02