Tonight, the Yankees can end their season or extend their season. If New York wants to advance to the ALDS, they need to get past AL Cy Young contender Dallas Keuchel and the Houston Astros.
Should the Yankees be scared?
Well, they have to face one of the best pitchers in baseball. So in a sense, yes, they should be scared. Keuchel places second in pitchers’ WAR among AL candidates, sitting just 0.1 behind Chris Sale.
Houston’s 27-year-old bearded lefty ace stands as the AL’s only 20-game winner, posting a 2.48 ERA in 232 innings. Keuchel lands top five in wins, ERA, innings, FIP, xFIP, and WAR among AL pitchers. Simply put, he’s a stud.
Oh, and let’s not forget, Keuchel has dominated the Yankees in 2015. On June 25th, he fired a complete game shutout with 12 strikeouts in Houston. Then, two months later, Keuchel pitched seven innings of scoreless ball in the Bronx, notching nine strikeouts. Two dominant games, two Astro victories.
So the odds are stacked highly against the Yankees, but let’s take another look at Keuchel. In Houston, Keuchel is as close to unbeatable as it comes. His road numbers tell a very different story.
Dallas Keuchel’s 2015 Home/Road splits
Home: 129.1 IP, 1.46 ERA, 2.04 FIP, .186 OPP AVG, 4.96 K/BB, 4 HR
Road: 102.2 IP, 3.77 ERA, 4.01 FIP, .251 OPP AVG, 3.35 K/BB, 13 HR
Looking at Keuchel’s road figures, he appears as just an average mid-rotational starter. Safe to say, the Yanks would be in deep trouble if Houston played host to tonight’s matchup. The lefty’s away numbers bring reassurance to Yankees fans, but let’s remember, he’s still Dallas Keuchel.
However, September/October Keuchel looks a lot different than the Keuchel of the first five months. Keuchel posted a 3.66 ERA and a 4.02 FIP in September/October, allowing seven homers. To put that in perspective, Keuchel suffered just seven home runs in the first half alone. For a Yankees team that finished the regular season fourth in MLB in homers, behind Toronto, Baltimore, and Houston, this matchup doesn’t look too pretty for the Astros’ ace.
The Yankees rank 15th in batting average against lefties, but second in runs, second in RBI, and fifth in homers. But those numbers go out the door when discussing the dominance of Keuchel.
However you look at the matchup, analyze the figures, and dive into the statistics, the Wild Card game is incredibly unpredictable. Jon Lester did his job for the A’s in last season’s contest, but nobody could have predicted the Royals’ comeback. Who would have thought Brandon Crawford of all people, one who knocked just 26 homers in four years, would stick the dagger in Pittsburgh’s heart with a crowd-silencing grand slam?
Keuchel may walk onto the Yankee Stadium mound and fire nine shoutout innings of scoreless ball, or he may allow a couple of short-porch bombs leading to a Yankee victory.
Hypothetical situations aside, Keuchel is a stud, but the Yankees found the right time and place to face Houston’s Cy Young contending ace. Let the playoffs begin.
(Photo: Joe Camporeale-USA Today Sports)