Astros look ahead to their first ALCS

Opponent, location for Friday's Game 1 still to be determined

Astros look ahead to their first ALCS

BOSTON -- About the only thing the Astros know as they prepare for the American League Championship Series presented by Camping World is that left-hander Dallas Keuchel is likely to get the ball for Game 1 on Friday.

Where the game will take place and against which team remains up in the air as the Astros await the winner of the other American League Division Series presented by Doosan after beating the Red Sox, 5-4, at soggy Fenway Park on Monday afternoon to win the ALDS in four games.

Game Date Time Matchup/Results TV/Highlights
Gm 1 Oct. 13   HOU 2, NYY 1 WATCH
Gm 2 Oct. 14   HOU 2, NYY 1 WATCH
Gm 3 Oct. 16   NYY 8, HOU 1 WATCH
Gm 4 Oct. 17   NYY 6, HOU 4 WATCH
Gm 5 Oct. 18   NYY 5, HOU 0 WATCH
Gm 6 Oct. 20 8 p.m. NYY @ HOU FS1
*Gm 7 Oct. 21 8 p.m. NYY @ HOU FS1

ALCS Game 1: Tonight, 8 p.m. ET/7 CT on FS1

The Astros, who moved to the AL prior to the 2013 season, are in their first ALCS and are looking to advance to the World Series for the first time since 2005, when they won their only National League pennant. The Astros will host Game 1 of the ALCS if the Yankees advance in the other ALDS, and they will be the visitor if their opponent is Cleveland.

"It doesn't matter at this point," Keuchel said. "We'll take our team against anybody."

Given that the Astros still don't know who they're going to play, here's a breakdown of how they match up against both possible opponents.

Against the Indians
The Tribe won five of six games from the Astros in the regular season, taking two of three in Cleveland in April and sweeping the Astros in May in Houston. The only game the Astros won against the Indians this year came in the first meeting of the season between the clubs, when Keuchel pitched a complete game on April 25.

All six games in the regular season were close, however. Five of the six were decided by two runs or fewer, and the other was a 3-0 shutout started by Mike Clevinger on May 20. Corey Kluber is 5-3 with a 3.26 ERA in eight career appearances (seven starts) against Houston, but Trevor Bauer (7-0, 2.89 ERA) has really handled the Astros in his career.

Houston struggled against Cleveland pitching this year, hitting .220/.284/.400 as a team with nine homers and 22 RBIs in the six games. The Astros averaged 3.7 runs per game against Cleveland and allowed 4.8 runs per game. Marwin Gonzalez (.462, two home runs) was the only Astros hitter to bat higher than .275 against Indians pitching this year. George Springer (1-for-12) especially struggled.

Meanwhile, Cleveland's Jose Ramirez (8-for-19) and Jason Kipnis (8-for-26) have been difficult matchups for Houston this year. The Astros have done well against Francisco Lindor, however, holding him to five hits in 23 at-bats.

As noted, the Indians would have home-field advantage against the Astros by virtue of winning 102 regular-season games as compared to Houston's 101.

Against the Yankees
The Astros went 5-2 against the Yankees this year, winning three of four games at Yankee Stadium in May -- including a split of a Mother's Day doubleheader -- and taking two of three from the Bombers in Houston in early July. The Astros outscored the Yankees, 43-41, in the seven games.

Carlos Correa (14-for-28, two homers, 10 RBIs) and Yuli Gurriel (9-for-22, two homers) have crushed Yankees pitching this year, with Evan Gattis (.333), Josh Reddick (.333), and Springer (.300) also swinging well. Brett Gardner (.429) and Gary Sanchez (.300) hit well against Houston this year, but the Astros kept Aaron Judge (.273) in check, allowing only one homer to the slugger in seven games.

The Astros are very familiar with Yankees starter Sonny Gray from his time with the A's. He's made nine career starts against Houston, going 4-3 with a 3.09 ERA. Sabathia is 2-1 with a 4.15 ERA in three career starts against Houston, but he hasn't faced them since 2016. The Astros have rocked Masahiro Tanaka, including hitting him for eight earned runs in 1 2/3 innings this year.

Among Astros starters, Keuchel (5-2, 1.24 ERA in seven starts) and Justin Verlander (6-7, 3.87 ERA in 18 starts) have the most experience against the Yankees.

The key with this matchup is that Houston holds home-field advantage, and Keuchel is one of the best pitchers in baseball at home. He posted a 2.26 ERA at Minute Maid Park this year, as compared to 3.53 on the road. And his wOBA against was .236 at home, second only to Kluber (.218). Having Keuchel lined up for a home start in Game 1 would be a clear advantage for Houston.

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.