Friday, 20 October, 2017

Yankees Set Rotation For ALCS, Masahiro Tanaka Gets Game 1

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Angelica Greene | 14 October, 2017, 00:23

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. Counting the AL Wild Card game, the Yankees have survived elimination in four games.

Houston is the overwhelming favorite to win this series due to the strong pitching the Astros have and a strong hitting lineup led by MVP favorite Jose Altuve. In Game 4, 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.

The best-of-seven series pits the team with the most World Series championships (the Yankees, with 27) against a team with only one trip to the Fall Classic in its history (a 2005 sweep at the hands of the White Sox). Right-hander Justin Verlander will start Game 2.

The Yankees begin that challenge Friday night with the start of the ALCS after rallying from an 0-2 deficit against the heavily favored Indians. But short of intentionally walking him, as the Red Sox did twice in Game 2 of the division series, taking care to not give him anything to hit early in the count would seem to be the way to go.

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Cleveland:.286 average, 21 AB, 2 runs, 6 hits, 1 double, 0 HR, 2 RBIs, 1 BB, 3 K, 1 SB, 1 CS, 5 games. It's not a stretch to imagine this series being decided by what happens when the Yankees' powerful bullpen goes to work against the most relentless offense in the game. He struck out nine times in those at-bats.

The Astros also have a hitter who has dominated the Yankees in shortstop, Carlos Correa. "Then after that is where it gets a little thought-provoking, I guess". Tanaka could help prevent that, and he has quietly pitched well since the All-Star break, posting a 3.77 ERA and three-hitting the Indians over seven scoreless innings to save the Yankees' season in Game 3.

Pitching opposite Tanaka will be Houston's ace Keuchel. This isn't the time to start betting against them.

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