Dallas Keuchel hasn’t allowed a run in 16 innings against the Yankees this season, but Houston fans will nevertheless be a little uneasy when their Cy Young candidate takes the hill in the AL Wild Card game Tuesday.
That’s because the game is in New York.
Keuchel, 27, went 15-0 with a 1.46 ERA at home this season as opposed to 5-8 with a 3.77 ERA on the road.
How do you explain splits that crazy?
“The only thing I can maybe put my finger on is the comforts of playing at home,” YES Network analyst John Flaherty said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “You get on your routine, the bullpen mound is very comfortable to you, obviously you’re dictating what time you’re going out there to start the game being the home team. That’s really the only thing I can say because this guy’s stuff is too good to have that disparity between home and road. Obviously the Yankees are hoping those numbers come true tonight, but the Yankees have their hands full. This is a guy who doesn’t do it with velocity. He’s crafty, he’s got plenty of movement, he’s talking a big game – that the big-game players step up in the biggest environment. And he’s going to have to do it on three days’ rest, so we’ll see if those numbers play out tonight.”
The Yankees, meanwhile, are hanging their postseason hopes on the right arm – and right hamstring – of Masahiro Tanaka. What are the Yankees expecting out of the 26-year-old this evening?
“I don’t think the Yankees know 100 percent what to expect,” Flaherty said. “He missed 12 days with that hamstring. His last start was not great. He gave up a home run in the first inning. I thought his stuff was short that night, and it got a little bit better as the game went on, but he’s going into this game – and if you’re a Yankee teammate – you have a lot of question marks on whether he’s going to be that No. 1-type guy, that shutdown-type guy. They paid him all the money, he has the name and this is really the reason why the Yankees brought him over from Japan – to pitch in a game like this tonight. Although he didn’t have his greatest outing last time, he came through it healthy, and the Yankees are putting all their eggs in his basket tonight that he’s got to go out there (and perform).”
If Tanaka falters, the Yankees’ offense needs to bail him out – which hasn’t happened a great deal as of late. The Yankees (87-75) are 29-31 since the trade deadline, as several players – such as Jacoby Ellsbury, who is hitting .220 since the All-Star break – have struggled.
“You could point your finger at a lot of guys in that lineup,” Flaherty said. “Brian McCann has not been great after the All-Star break. You mentioned Ellsbury. (Brett) Gardner has really struggled, and Alex Rodriguez is kind of limping to the finish line. With all the great feelings that they’ve had this year – (Carlos) Beltran a rebound year, McCann a rebound year, Alex has been unbelievable – those are all great stories. But they’ve been limping to the finish line here. They have not been playing well. They have not been swinging the bats well. More importantly, they’re not getting that big hit with runners in scoring position to break open a game. And then you throw in Keuchel on top of it, and it doesn’t sound well offensively that this is going to be a high-scoring game. With all that being said, Yankees fans expect a lot. They expect you to win this game tonight and they expect you to make a run, so we’ll see if they can follow through.”