Astros-Yankees AL wild-card preview

By Bob Elliott

American League wild-card game
Houston Astros at New York Yankees

(Astros won four of seven meetings) 

Astros
Team payroll: Astros $81.2 million (25th over-all).

Octobers: Zero World Series wins, one pennant, nine playoff appearances.

Post-season record: 25-31.   

Last post season: 2005, swept in World Series by Chicago White Sox.  

Manager: A.J. Hinch. 

Record: 86-76. 

How they got here: Spent 139 days in first, caught by the Texas Rangers Sept. 15, Game 2 of a Rangers’ four-game sweep, won six of its final eight.   

Run differential: Plus 111.  

Stud Hosses: SS Carlos Correa, 20, had 22 doubles, 22 homers and 68 RBIs in 99 games batting .279 with an .857 OPS, plus George Springer, who had 19 doubles, 16 homers and 41 RBIs in 102 games with an .826 OPS and 200-hit man 2B Jose Altuve with 40 doubles, 15 homers, 66 RBIs and an .812 OPS.

Theme: “We weren’t supposed to be here til years down the road, but here we are.” 

Looking up: LHP Dallas Keuchel made 33 starts going 20-8 with a 2.48 ERA walking 51 and striking out 216 in 232 innings. Closer Luke Gregerson had 31 saves going 7-3 with a 3.10 ERA as he walked 10 and struck out 59 in 61 innings.

Looking down: Ex-Jay Colby Rasmus hit .238 with 25 homers and 61 RBIs, 154 strikeouts in 485 plate appearances.

Canadian content: Whitby LHP Evan Grills at single A Lancaster, RHP Brock Dykxhoorn of Goderich, Ont. at class-A Quad Cities and former Leaside coach, Jim Stevenson, who scouts Oklahoma.

Canadian rootability rating: No. 9 of 10 teams in post season. 

Bodog World Series odds: 14-1.

Yankees
Team payroll: $218.8 million (2nd) 

Octobers: 27 World Series championships, 40 AL pennants, and 51 playoff appearances. 

Post-season record: 203-150.  

Last post season: 2012, Swept in ALCS by Detroit Tigers. 

Manager: Joe Girardi. 

Record: 87-75. 

How they got here: Spent 100 days in first until dropping to second on Aug. 25, limped to the finish line losing six of seven.  

Run differential: Plus 66.  

Stud Hosses: Alex Rodriguez missed all of 2014 wearing suspenders and came back at 39 with 22 doubles, 33 homers and 86 RBIs in 151 games. Carlos Beltran had 34 doubles, 19 homers and 67 RBIs, with an .808 OPS, while C Brian McCann hit 15 doubles, 26 homers and 94 RBIs with a .756 OPS.      

Theme: If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. 

Looking up: RHP Masahiro Tanaka was 12-7 in 26 starts with a 3.51 ERA, walking 27 and fanning 139 in 154 innings; closer Andrew Miller had 36 saves going 3-2 with a 2.04 ERA as he walked 20 and fanned 100 in 61 2/3 innings, as Dellin Betances closed nine games going 6-4 with a 1.50 ERA, with 14 walks and 140 whiffs in 84 innings.    

Looking down: Jacoby Ellsbury had 15 doubles, seven homers and 33 RBIs, while batting .257.  

 Canadian content: Stratford’s Robbie Thomson, Joe Girardi’s bench coach; Windsor’s Evan Rutckyj, pitching at Double-A Trenton, LHP Jeff Degano, Surrey, B.C. pitching at class-A Staten Island; scouts Denis Boucher of Lachine, Que. and Steve Wilson, of Victoria, Pacific Rim supervisor. 

Canadian rootability rating: No. 2 of 10 teams to make post season.