April 5, 2016
Fantasy League Baseball
Fantasy League Baseball: A day after the New York Yankees’ first Opening Day rainout since 2008, they will open their 2016 season at Yankee Stadium Tuesday afternoon against the Houston Astros (1 p.m. ET on ESPN).
The game is a rematch, almost six months to the date, of last year’s American League wild-card game, which the Astros took from the Yankees in the Bronx. Even the starting pitchers will be the same.
Keuchel has the Yankees’ number
Dallas Keuchel held the Yankees to three hits over six innings in that game on three days’ rest. Keuchel gave the Yankees fits all of last season. He was 3-0 against them in 2015 and did not allow an earned run in 22 innings. The Yankees struck out 28 times against Keuchel and drew two walks.
Keuchel faced 16 teams last season, but the Yankees were the only one he held scoreless over the season. His 11.8 strikeouts per nine innings pitched against the Yankees was his highest strikeout rate against any team he faced at least twice.
This will be Keuchel’s second career Opening Day start. In Houston’s opener last season, he held the Cleveland Indians to three hits and no runs in seven innings. The good start was a sign of things to come for Keuchel, who went on to win the American League Cy Young Award.
After Jake Arrieta’s seven-inning, two-hit scoreless performance Monday night against the Los Angeles Angels, reigning Cy Young Award winners are 33-20 in 78 Opening Day starts, according to Elias Sports Bureau research.
The last time reigning Cy Young winners went 2-0 in their teams’ respective Opening Days was 2000, when Randy Johnson (National League) and Pedro Martinez (AL) were victorious.
Tanaka making second Opening Day start
Masahiro Tanaka will make his second career Opening Day start, just like Keuchel. Tanaka allowed five runs in four innings against the Toronto Blue Jays in the 2015 opener.
In his only regular-season start against the Astros, Tanaka surrendered a season-high six earned runs, including home runs by Chris Carter, Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve.
In other starts, Tanaka dominated his opposition last year with his splitter. He used it the second-most frequently of any pitcher in baseball with at least 150 innings pitched, and induced 12 percent more swinging strikes with it than his other pitches. Opposing batters swung at and missed Tanaka’s splitter more than 62 percent of the time.
Elias notes that the Yankees’ .563 win percentage on Opening Day is the fourth-best in major-league history behind that of the New York Mets (.636), Seattle Mariners (.600) and Baltimore Orioles (.591).
Correa, who won the AL Rookie of the Year award in 2015, led shortstops in home runs with 22 last season.
Correa and Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees have drawn numerous comparisons, given their position and hype before their major-league debuts.
Correa will play in his 100th regular-season game Tuesday on the same field as Rodriguez. Through 99 career games, Correa is outpacing Rodriguez in home runs (22 to 14) and runs batted in (68 to 58).