Keuchel to face Tanaka on short rest in Bronx
PHOENIX -- Perhaps the only thing more advantageous than the Astros having the Wild Card Game presented by Budweiser at home would be sending Dallas Keuchel to the mound to face Masahiro Tanaka and the Yankees at Yankee Stadium.
Keuchel, the only 20-game winner in the American League and a front-runner for the AL Cy Young Award, will get the ball on three days' rest for the Astros when they meet the Yankees at 7 p.m. CT (on ESPN) tonight at Yankee Stadium. Keuchel is 2-0 in two starts against the Yankees and hasn't allowed a run in 16 innings against them.
"We're glad to be in, and we're going to look to wreak some havoc here," Keuchel said.
Keuchel threw a shutout against the Yankees on June 25 in Houston, allowing six hits and one walk while striking out 12 batters. He held them scoreless for seven innings on Aug. 25 in New York, giving up three hits and striking out nine batters with no walks.
:: AL Wild Card Game: Astros vs. Yankees -- Tune-in info ::"I think it'll be great," Astros catcher Jason Castro said. "He's been doing it all year, and no matter what we've asked him to do, he bounces back and rises to the occasion. I'm excited to get going, and he's the guy that we want on the mound."
Keuchel, who threw a career-high 232 innings and had a career-high 216 strikeouts in the regular season, threw 99 pitches Friday against the D-backs. He's never started a game on three days of rest, but had only two days off before starting the All-Star Game for the AL in July and tossing two innings.
"I told him in the game [Sunday], once we knew we had clinched, that I'm giving him an extra day of rest compared to the All-Star Game," manager A.J. Hinch joked. "He'll be ready to go. The style of pitcher that Dallas is, the stuff he has, the competitiveness, it'll be all hands on deck. One-game playoff at Yankee Stadium -- couldn't get any better."
Keuchel is the Astros' longest-tenured pitcher, so it's only fitting he takes the ball in the Astros' first postseason game in 10 years. He struggled in his first couple of years in the Major Leagues with Houston before breaking through last year as a 12-game winner who threw 200 innings.
This year, he was named AL Pitcher of the Month three times and led the league in wins (20) and innings pitched (232) and was second in ERA (2.48) and opponents' batting average (.217).
"Dallas is exactly right about what we're doing around here," Hinch said. "We've got a lot of guys that contributed -- young, old, veterans, rookies. The coaching staff did well, player development, scouting. We could go on forever about how many people got us here. We get to be the beneficiary of it. Dallas is one of the best pitchers in baseball, and had one of the best years."