The early performance by Dallas Keuchel could be the deciding factor in the outcome for Game 3 of the ALDS for the Astros.
Last night, we saw the first sweep in the division round by the Milwaukee Brewers over the Colorado Rockies. The Braves were able to avoid being swept by the Dodgers to force a Game 4 in Atlanta. Billed as the prime-time matchup (cue eye-roll), the Red Sox and Yankees split the two games at Fenway Park. This leaves the Astros as the last team potentially able to sweep their opponent in the division round.
Sweeping a team like the Cleveland Indians is not an easy task. Most experts are predicting that the team that wins this series would be the favorites to win the World Series in 2018. The pitching has been dominant through the first two games for the Astros in taking at 2-0 lead in the series. They will now turn to Dallas Keuchel to try to get the ALDS clinching win today at 12:30 pm CST. He will face Mike Clevinger, who has had success versus the Astros, just not in 2018.
Get off to a good start.
The key for Keuchel will be to have an effective first inning, which was his Kryptonite in 2018. According to Baseball-Reference, Keuchel had a 6.88 ERA in the first inning this year. His 26 walks in the first inning were the most as he allowed 26 of his 92 runs allowed in 2018. That’s 28% of his runs allowed in the first inning of his starts.
He typically settles down into a grove, until he reaches the fifth inning. During the 5th-7th innings, Keuchel has an ERA of 4.88, 4.12, and 5.40 respectively. In other words, if Keuchel survives the first inning, you may see an early hook in the fifth or sixth inning or earlier. This could be a game that we see a lot of Josh James or Collin McHugh.
Keuchel’s playoff success.
But then again, Keuchel has had some great moments in the playoffs before. We all remember the Wild-Card game back in 2015 where Keuchel dominated the Yankees lineup to advance to the ALDS. Kecuhel itched well last year in Game 1 (11 strikeouts) of the ALCS vs. the Yankees again, but only lasted 4 2/3 innings in Game 5 (eight strikeouts) via Baseball-Reference. He also pitched well versus the Red Sox in the ALDS last year.
Keuchel did struggle vs. the Dodgers in the World Series, losing Game 1 behind Chris Taylor‘s leadoff homer. He also only lasted 3 2/3 innings in Game 5 of the World Series, which was one of the best games in World Series history. Not because of how Keuchel pitched, but how the game went back and forth.
For what it is worth, Keuchel has a 0-1 record in 2018 with a 4.91 ERA while striking out eight hitters in 11 innings. Looking at Twitter, Indians fans are throwing out those stats as they did with Justin Verlander. How did that work out last time? The postseason is a whole new ballgame.
Keuchel admitted yesterday during his press conference that he knows this could be last season with the Astros. Hopefully, today’s start will add to his legacy. The only concern is that the Indians lineup, notably Jose Ramirez, will start hitting soon. Hopefully, Keuchel will be able to set the tone early, and the Astros pull out the win. Let’s have faith in our former Cy Young Award winner until he proves otherwise in the postseason.