GAME 1 – Dallas Keuchel vs. Masahiro Tanaka
Yes, this is a rematch of the AL Wild Card duel in which Keuchel pitched six shutout innings, and both Colby Rasmus and Carlos Gomez hit home runs off the Yankee ace, to help defeat New York 3-0 and move on to the ALDS. Keuchel went on win the Cy Young award and looks to continue his dominance. Current New York hitters have a career .233 average versus Keuchel, with Beltran doing the most damage (9 AB, .444, 1 HR).
Hitters like Rodriguez, Ellsbury, Teixeira, and Headley have all struggled against the award-winning southpaw, and Castro has yet to get a hit off Keuchel in five career at-bats. The Yankees lineup provides a good mixture of right-handed, left-handed, and switch batters, so Keuchel will again need to pitch to his strength and locate fastballs and offspeed pitches to multiple corners and cold zones. Keuchel has had a great spring and recently held the Phillies scoreless over seven innings.
Tanaka had off-season elbow surgery to remove bone spurs and has caused some speculation. Though spring numbers are for the most part irrelevant, he has given up 9 earned runs in 11 innings pitched. Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild stated, “I think some of this stuff starts with going back to last spring. All the talk (has been) about his arm and just trying to protect it and not getting it as much as trying to make sure he’s healthy. Beyond that, you want to be healthy, but you want to be healthy in the context of throwing the ball the way you can and turning the ball loose the way you can. I think that’s where were are right now.” http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/baseball/yankees/yankees-insider-rothschild-don-worry-tanaka-article-1.2577136 Tanaka, when on point, is an ace with a nasty arsenal of pitches, so it will be interesting to see how Tanaka starts off the season.
Next: GAME 2 – Collin McHugh vs Michael Pineda