Yankees hurler Tanaka to start ACLS Game 1 in Houston

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Pedro Martinez being used in relief was a huge deal in 1999. But if neither Chris Sale nor Craig Kimbrel could subdue Houston's high-powered offense, it's doubtful a three-day layoff will have much effect. "It's about two young teams that are both playing about as good as you can play". So one way of guaranteeing him one start at home is one and five.

So what gives with the Yanks' No. 2 hitter, who will try to snap out of it in Game 1 of the best-of-seven series on Friday night here at Minute Maid Park?

Joe Lucia: My biggest takeaway was the fact that the Yankees don't need to bludgeon their opponents to win games. The Yankees said CC Sabathia will pitch Game 3 in NY and Sonny Gray will go in Game 4.

But Keuchel has pitched better than most against the Yankees in recent years, going 4-2 with a 1.41 ERA and 45 strikeouts in six regular-season starts. "I don't think who the names are or who the jersey is, he knows he can get anybody out in the league".

Ian Casselberry: The MLB postseason is the time for unexpected heroes. Correa hit.500 against the Yankees with two home runs and 10 RBIs in seven regular-season games this season. There was a reason that Houston's manager A.J. Hinch gave the ball to Verlander in Game 4, after all.

After a fast start that signaled a young team arriving ahead of schedule, the Yankees rebuilt their bullpen at the trade deadline with the additions of strikeout kings David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle - adding them to a stable that included Chapman, Dellin Betances and Chad Green to form arguably the deepest late-inning corps in the game.

But Tanaka didn't survive the second inning May 14 against the Astros, who just got through knocking around Red Sox starting pitching for 16 runs in 11⅔ innings over four games. Yuli Gurriel batted 9-for-17 in the series. In Game 4 against Cleveland, their pitchers' fastballs averaged a staggering 98 miles per hour, never once dipping below 96 - and that was with Chapman, who sometimes touches 102 and 103 miles per hour, not even participating. I expect the Los Angeles Dodgers to play the Cleveland Indians in the World Series.

It's worth noting that Yankees relievers have pitched 46.6% of New York's innings so far this postseason, so it's fair to start worrying at some point about overuse.

"This is a very risky lineup ... we didn't have a lot of success against Cleveland during the regular season but we pitched better during the playoffs, and you hope that holds true here". But they seize the spotlight when it matters most. We've already talked about Verlander, who will start Game 2, and, while he's been an excellent pickup for Houston, he's had some issues with some of the Yankees hitters, and Chase Headley (.400/.400/.800 over 15 ABs) in particular, with the team as a whole hitting.257/.323/.451 off him. The Yankees hit just.201 with a.646 OPS against the Indians, scoring just 21 runs in five games.

The 25-year-old Judge isn't daunted by his hard postseason.

Of course, there are outliers to the rule.

This is the sixth time McCann has gotten to the playoffs, the first time to a championship series. Even then, Bregman's still batting well below.250 in 18 at-bats.

It should be concerning to Yankee fans that the trio of Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and Chase Headley were a combined 5-for-55 in the ALDS. If we turn to projected standings, Houston very slightly overperformed, as BaseRuns had them as a 99-win team and their Pythagorean record had them as a 100-win team.

Game one of the ALCS between the Yankees and Astros will be Friday at 6:08 p.m.in Houston, Texas.

Alex Putterman: For a while there, this year's playoffs seemed to be progressing exactly as predicted. The universe was in order. Unfortunately, ace Corey Kluber did not hold up his end of the bargain and the Indians lost in five games to the Yankees. The Yankees' ultimate triumph over the Indians ranks as perhaps the most shocking playoff series outcome since the 90-win Cardinals upset the 102-win Phillies in the 2011 NLDS.

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