Major League Baseball playoffs: AJ Hinch feels Keuchel, Verlander give Astros 'huge advantage'

Astros second baseman Jose Altuve is introduced before Game

Astros second baseman Jose Altuve is introduced before Game 3 of the ALCS against the Yankees on Monday Oct. 16 2017

Keuchel is 4-2 with a 1.41 ERA over six career starts against the Yankees, against whom he will start in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series on Friday at Minute Maid Park. The Yankees impressive showing against the Indians, however, showed that, as of this moment, they are among the best teams in baseball.

"Oh, he's a great player, and he's been for a number of years here", Girardi said.

Alex Bregman and Altuve went back-to-back off Red Sox starter Chris Sale in the first inning, and that was just the start of a rude awakening for the AL Cy Young Award candidate in his first career postseason start. Verlander, who was acquired on August 31, made his first career relief appearance to help eliminate the Red Sox in Game 4 on Monday.

"So, look, having Verlander and Keuchel in the decision that goes one, two, the fact that we have both is a huge advantage for us".

"They've got high-end velocity", Hinch said. "So I have all the confidence in the world". That made him 3-0 with a 2.29 ERA in four postseason appearances with three starts.

Matt Holliday is starting at designated hitter and batting eighth for the Yankees in Friday's ALCS Game 1 versus the Astros. The key will be if they can get their starters to go deep into games - instead of lasting only to the third or fourth inning. He allowed just three hits in seven scoreless innings in his second career postseason game.

Skipper Girardi said that Tanaka has had a few really strong starts, as his last two were outstanding. "And there's a lot of times that he really gets on a roll and he puts a bunch of them together and we're going to need a good one from him tomorrow".

Countering that is an Astros lineup, led by Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, Marwin Gonzalez and George Springer - with feasts on fastballs.

Thanks in part to Altuve, the Astros wielded Major League Baseball's most prolific offense during the regular season.

"I don't think anyone who goes through a season has a flawless season", Judge said. Four of those strikeouts Wednesday night belonged to Judge, who hit just.050 with 16 strikeouts in 20 at-bats in the series. It will be a challenge for the 25-year-old MVP co-favorite to rediscover his swing in such a short amount of time. The Yankees said CC Sabathia will pitch Game 3 in NY and Sonny Gray will go in Game 4.

Keuchel was 14-5 with a 2.90 ERA in the regular season and won his start against the Boston Red Sox in the Division Series, giving up one run in 5 2/3 innings with seven strikeouts. Houston's hasn't announced its rotation past Saturday.

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