The AL wild card game is being played between the two teams that spent the most and the least money on their Opening Day payrolls this season. The Yankees have the #2 payroll in all of baseball. The Astros have the #29 payroll in all of baseball. The Astros barely managed to hold on to their postseason spot. The Yankees barely managed to hold on to their having the home field advantage in this one game, winner-take-all contest.
Neither team can come into this feeling too confident. The Astros are sending out an AL Cy Young contender in Dallas Keuchel, who has only allowed more than three runs in six of his 33 starts all season. In two starts against this Yankees team this year, Keuchel did not allow a run over 16 innings of work. One of those two games was a shutout.
So, that's a bad sign for the Yankees, no doubt. Their starting pitcher tonight, Masahiro Tanaka, is no slouch either, although it is the case that Tanaka allowed six runs in his lone start against the Astros this season. Also, while Tanaka has a WHIP just under 1.000 - which is incredible - he also allowed 25 home runs in only 154 innings this season. These Astros hit the second-most home runs of any American League team this season, although they also struck out more than any other AL team.
It may be that none of these trends will matter, because all that matters is what happens in this one game. As we Orioles fans know well ourselves, anything can happen. You can have the team starting Joe Saunders beat the team that is starting Yu Darvish. That happened. It was awesome.
The Orioles being at home for the postseason sucks, but being able to sit back and have absolutely no vested interest whatsoever in this wild card game is going to be refreshing.
|HOUSTON ASTROS||NEW YORK YANKEES|
|Jose Altuve - 2B||Brett Gardner - CF|
|George Springer - RF||Chris Young - LF|
|Carlos Correa - SS||Carlos Beltran - RF|
|Colby Rasmus - LF||Alex Rodriguez - DH|
|Evan Gattis - DH||Brian McCann - C|
|Carlos Gomez - CF||Chase Headley - 3B|
|Luis Valbuena - 3B||Greg Bird - 1B|
|Chris Carter - 1B||Rob Refsnyder - 2B|
|Jason Castro - C||Didi Gregorius - SS|
|Dallas Keuchel - LHP||Masahiro Tanaka - RHP|