The New York Yankees backed into homefield advantage in the American League wild-card game and have to hope that a pitching staff that struggled mightily over the final weeks can put it together for one game. The Houston Astros, who visit New York for the AL wild-card game on Tuesday, squandered a chance to earn homefield advantage in the contest with a loss on Sunday but have things lined up to start their ace against the Yankees.
Cy Young Award front-runner Dallas Keuchel will get the nod for the Astros, who waited until the final day of the season to figure out their place in the postseason and are returning to playoff baseball for the first time since representing the National League in the 2005 World Series. New York returns to the postseason following a two-year absence but comes in having lost three straight and six of their last seven. Wins in any of those games would have made the final weekend anticlimactic, but the Yankees instead surrendered a total of 46 runs in six losses to the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles – two teams with nothing left for which to play by that point. New York will start Masahiro Tanaka, who has made one start since Sept. 18 while dealing with a hamstring strain, on Tuesday but figures to have most of their starters available out of the bullpen.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, ESPN
LINE HISTORY: The Yankees opened as very slight +104 home dogs, but the odds have almost moved to dead eve, with the Yankees now at -102.
Astros – CF C. Gomez (questionable Tuesday, ribs).
Yankees – SP C. Sabathia (out for season, personal), 2B S. Drew (out for season, concussion), SP N. Eovaldi (out for season, elbow), 1B (out for season, shin).
WEATHER REPORT: It should be a perfect night for baseball in the Bronx with clear skies and temperatures in the mid 60’s at gametime. There will be a very slight three mile per hour wind blowing out to right center field.
PITCHING MATCHUP: Astros LH Dallas Keuchel (20-8, 2.48 ERA) vs. Yankees RH Masahiro Tanaka (12-7, 3.51)
One reason a loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday was so crushing is that it meant Keuchel, who is 15-0 with a 1.46 ERA at home, would have to make the start on the road. The All-Star is 5-8 with a 3.77 ERA on the road in 2015 but won at Arizona on Friday and will be making Tuesday’s start on three days’ rest for the first time in his career. Keuchel struck out nine and scattered three hits in seven scoreless frames at New York on Aug. 25 and is 2-1 with a 1.13 ERA in three career starts against the Yankees.
Tanaka tuned up on Wednesday against Boston and was reached for four runs on five hits and a walk in five innings without factoring in the decision. The Japan native will be appearing in his first postseason since joining the Yankees and will try to keep the ball in the park after yielding 25 home runs in 154 total innings. Tanaka made his lone career start against Houston on June 27 and was ripped for six runs on seven hits – three homers – in five innings.
* Astros are 3-8 in Keuchel’s last 11 road starts.
* Yankees are 1-4 in Tanaka’s last five home starts.
* Under is 4-0 in Tanaka’s last our starts versus a team with a winning record.
* Under is 12-4 in the last 16 meetings.
COVERS CONSENSUS: The public is almost split right down the middle, with 52.36 percent of wagers backing the Astros.