ALCS Game 1: Masahiro Tanaka to start for New York Yankees vs

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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.

Masahiro Tanaka, who shined in Game 3 of the ALDS against the Indians, will oppose Keuchel.

2017 regular-season stats:.264 average, 594 AB, 96 runs, 157 hits, 26 doubles, 4 triples, 21 HR, 63 RBIs, 72 BB, 122 K, 23 SB, 5 CS, 151 games.

The Astros will play the victor of Wednesday's Game 5 between the New York Yankees and Cleveland Indians. Right-hander Justin Verlander will start Game 2.

The stakes: The Yankees haven't played in the ALCS since 2012, an eternity when measured in Steinbrenner Years. That's seven homers allowed in his last 10 innings. In particular, it will bear watching how a Yankees bullpen loaded with hard-throwing relievers fares against an Astros offense that mashed heaters to the tune of.301/.373/.525 during the regular season. He struck out nine times in those at-bats. Games 1 and 2 will be played at Minute Maid Park. Yankees hitters are 19-for-103 (.184) with four walks and 35 strikeouts against him. "Then after that is where it gets a little thought-provoking, I guess". The Yankees' full lineup looks like this: Brett Gardner LF, Aaron Judge RF, Gary Sanchez C, Didi Gregorius SS, Starlin Castro 2B, Aaron Hicks CF, Greg Bird 1B, Holliday, Todd Frazier 3B. I didn't think I'd be back in Cleveland at all, ' " the longtime Yankees analyst said Thursday morning after arriving in Houston overnight. Left-hander CC Sabathia will start Game 3 when the series moves to NY, and right-hander Sonny Gray will pitch Game 4. "Houston, all year long, led by [Jose] Altuve and [Carlos] Correa, those type of players have been just wonderful at putting those runs on the board and punishing mediocre pitching".

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