If you want to keep watching baseball, you're going to have to settle for watching teams other than the Washington Nationals.
Tonight it's the American League Wild Card matchup between the New York Yankees and upstart Houston Astros with Masahiro Tanaka on the mound for the home team in Yankee Stadium against 'Stros' left-hander Dallas Keuchel.
Can the Astros spare the baseball world from another couple weeks of the Yankees on the television attempting to win their 28th World Series?
Yankees' skipper Joe Girardi talked on Monday about his starter and what the 26-year-old right-hander brings to the mound after Tanaka finished his second season in New York (12-7) with a 3.51 ERA, 3.98 FIP, 27 walks (1.58 BB/9) and 139 Ks (8.12 K/9) in 154 innings, over which he held opposing hitters to a combined .217/.254/.420 line.
"I think he has the ability to mix pitches extremely well," Girardi told reporters.
"He has a swing-and-miss -- he has a couple of swing-and-miss pitches and he loves to compete as well. And that makes me feel really good about him."
As for the Yankees' opponent on the mound?
"To me, [Keuchel is] a guy that keeps the ball down in the zone," Girardi said. "And you have to make him get the ball up is what you have to do on him. But he's really good at what he does. You can't chase on him. You have got to try to get his pitch count up. In a sense, maybe put some long at-bats on him.
"He's one day short on rest and hopefully it will work."
Astros' skipper A.J. Hinch talked yesterday about handing the ball to his ace on short rest with the season on the line after Keuchel, 27, went (20-8) in the regular season with a 2.48 ERA, a 2.91 FIP, 51 walks (1.98 BB/9), 216 Ks (8.38 K/9) and a .216/.262/.314 line against in 232 IP.
"The way the schedule played out we had the off day on Thursday," Hinch explained.
"And obviously I moved him up to Friday to have a potential day with three days' rest. So handing him the ball is pretty easy for me.
"We've got a number of good starting pitchers, but none have been as exceptional as Dallas. The way he goes about it, his preparation, and for those that haven't seen him throughout the year, I think his notoriety has grown. He's only gotten better along the way.
"To be the pitcher of the month so many months of the year, to win 20 games, to really answer the challenge and have only one or two starts that were hiccups along the way, he's our ace, he's our guy.
"So to hand him the ball with the season on the line, pretty awesome."
Here are the lineup for the AL Wild Card matchup, which begins at 8:00 PM EDT:
|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|
Tanaka vs the Astros:
Keuchel vs the Yankees:
|John Ryan Murphy||5||5||2||1||.400||.400||.400||.800|