And then I expect (or maybe just really, really hope) Major League Baseball will use the offseason to figure out how to create a playoff system that gives a team that wins 98 times in the regular season more than one game in the playoffs. That’s when the postseason opens with Keuchel and the Astros taking on New York’s Masahiro Tanaka in the AL wild-card game. Jake Arrieta and Gerrit Cole collide in this winner-take-all National League Wild Card game. The Pirates will be at home, but don’t let that fool you. The Pirates and Yankees get to host the wild card games after finishing with a better regular season record than their opponents. The Astros were called to have another development year in their ambitious rebuild, but instead found precocious performances to make the playoffs for the first time since 2005.
The St. Louis Cardinals became the first team with 100 wins on Wednesday, before being swept by the Atlanta Braves in a weekend series that essentially amounted to a tuneup ahead of a Division Series matchup with either the Chicago Cubs or Pittsburgh Pirates.
We should be in for a low scoring game in this one. The game will be shown on ESPN. And yet, in a matter of two days that select list will be reduced to two squads following the winner-take-all Wild Card games in each league. A strong final week secured New York’s home-field advantage for this game, while the Astros staved off the Angels for the final spot in the American League. He was much better at home (15-0, 1.46 ERA) than on the road (5-8, 3.77 ERA), but he dominated the Yankees in two starts against them, with 16 scoreless innings and 21 strikeouts. The season series between the teams ended with Houston going 4-3, with the Astros winning two out of three in Yankee Stadium.
Headliners poised to perform the include NL West champion Dodgers’ one-two pitching punch of Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, and big-hitting Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion of an AL East champion Toronto team in the playoffs for the first time since winning a second consecutive World Series title in 1993. Mark Teixeira will be out again; however, Greg Bird has been filling in very nicely in his place.
New York (87-75), winners of 27 World Series, counter with a veteran roster including 40-year-old slugger Alex Rodriguez.
This is the Astros first playoff appearance since they lost the 2005 World Series to the Chicago White Sox. The result sends the Astros to the Bronx for a one-game showdown with the New York Yankees on Tuesday.