The Astros finally learned who they will face in the AL Championship Series when the Yankees' Game 5 win completed a comeback against the Indians Wednesday.
Astros manager A.J. Hinch sent Justin Verlander to the mound for Game 1 of an ALDS win over the Red Sox, but southpaw Dallas Keuchel will get the first crack against New York.
"Dallas is really good so I'm not the least bit hesitant on starting him," Hinch said Thursday. "When we made the move to pitch Verlander in Game 4 out of relief we had the backdrop that Dallas was going to start Game 5. So I have all the confidence in the world.
"Dallas Keuchel has been remarkable as an Astros, he's been remarkable in my three years here. We hand him the ball and the entire room knows we have a chance to win.
"So, look, having Verlander and Keuchel in the decision that goes one, two, the fact that we have both is a huge advantage for us."
Houston's rotation will be counted on to help the lineup set up early leads. The Yankees' bullpen — with the exception of a Game 2 collapse against the Indians — has been dominant.
"You don't get to this point without having a pretty strong group of players. So getting the lead is always important in the playoffs," Hinch said. "We saw that firsthand the last series and the momentum that can impact decisions on both sides, the urgency that's created by the playoffs. And you count outs a little bit faster in the postseason than you do even in the regular season.
"And this bullpen can match up with you, they're predominantly right-hander to the back end. They've got high-end velocity, probably don't throw a ball under 95. There's a lot of weapons down there for Joe (Girardi) to use, and our players know that and we know that.
"But you ask any manager in the postseason, you're a little bit more mapped out if you can have the lead. We have been a quick strike offense early so far this playoff season, so if we can do that again, I'll be a little happier."
The Astros are playing in their first Championship Series since 2005, when they reached the World Series as a National League team.
Source : http://www.sportingnews.com/mlb/news/mlb-playoffs-aj-hinch-feels-keuchel-verlander-give-astros-huge-advantage/13o806benid261dtgdr14f8vb9