Dallas Keuchel pretty much owned the New York Yankees this season. Three starts, three wins, zero runs allowed – including Tuesday’s 3-0 win in the AL Wild Card.
“He’s been that good against them all season,” Houston Chronicle columnist Jerome Solomon said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “He’s been that good against everybody, really. His record has just been phenomenal. He’s been able to move the ball around. He’s pitched with so much confidence. He said, ‘Look, I think I’ve been the best pitcher in baseball this year,’ and it’s hard to argue with him. He’s a legitimate Cy Young candidate – and probably will win the award – and the Astros are feeling pretty comfortable about how they’re going about doing it even with a young team, an inexperienced team. Keuchel will be pitching at home on Sunday where he set the major league record for most wins in a season at a home park.”
Keuchel went 15-0 with a 1.46 ERA at Minute Maid Park this season.
“In a lot of ways, in the back of their minds, they have to be thinking they’re already up 1-0 in this series,” Solomon said. “Can they get a split in Kansas City in these first two games and really get something going? It’s going to be fascinating to watch them try to do what the Royals did last year: come from out of nowhere with a young team that was too naive to know they’re not supposed to win – and keep winning.”
But what chance do the Astros really have in this series? Kansas City coasted toward the end of the season and still finished with the best record (95-67) in the AL and won the Central by 12 games.
“Well, that’s part of it,” Solomon said. “Does that play into the Royals’ psyche? They’ve been relatively coasting for awhile, while the Astros are playing the last few weeks with every game really being important (with) a lot of playoff-type pressure, and of course they get the ultimate pressure in the (one-game playoff). So they’re supremely confident. The two teams have different styles and that’ll be an interesting contrast. Playing at the stadium here in Kansas City, you’re not going to walk up there and just hit a lot of home runs – (but) that won’t stop them from trying. They will come out and be free-swinging. They could get into some trouble in that case. They’ve struggled at times – particularly on the road – because they’re such a long-ball team. But this team, they don’t read the clippings. They don’t believe that they’re not as good as everybody thinks they are. They went into Yankee Stadium not at all concerned about the history of the building or pinstripes. They were like, ‘We’re better than those guys, and when we play our best, everyone will see it.’ I’m not going to doubt them at this point.”
Game 1 is Thursday in Kansas City. First pitch is at 7:37 p.m. ET.