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October 6, 2015 (2:00 PM ET)

Sports Profit System finished the regular MLB season with an unrivaled 84-61 record!

Take Houston Astros on the Money Line (-107) against NY Yankees risking 3.21% of the bankroll to win 3%.
(Keuchel and Tanaka must start for wager to have action)

The entire season comes down to this ONE game for these two American League clubs. It is a do-or-die, win or go home matchup that has baseball fans intrigued all around the world! Will it be the plucky young Astros who've defied odds all season or the arguably most popular and storied franchise in all of professional sports? We believe we have the answer as the Astros have the edge in nearly ever aspect on the diamond with one exception. Let's examine the details of this Wild Card clash.

The Houston Astros play with a chip on their shoulders and have done so from the very beginning of the season. Few expected this young ball club to be playing October baseball but they've made it despite a rocky September and it shouldn't be forgotten that they led the very competive AL West for 139 days! The Yankeese also led their division (AL East) for a good portion of the year but were ultimately outclassed by the Blue Jays who proved to be the team to beat in the East and finished 6 games ahead with a far superior run differential. AJ Hinch has his squad playing with real belief and self-esteem and the fact that they've had success at this ball park earlier this season will give them further confidence. The last time Dallas Keuchel took the mound at Yankees Stadium mound, his team ran out 15-1 winners! The offense was rollling as it has been again recently and Keuchel himself shutout the Bronx Bombers for the second time this year! The Yankee bats have had 16 innings of plate appearances against him and yet failed to cross home plate even once. Keuchel started the All-Star game and has been growing in notoriety and confidence as the season has gone on. By now, he's used to playing in BIG games and handling BIG pressure and has come out on top more often than not! He showed great glimses of potential last year and has put it all together this year for what has been a breakout season. The AL Cy Young front-runner's 20-8 win/loss record puts him behind only Jake Arrieta and his pitching metrics such as his 2.48 ERA and 216 punch-outs on the season are simply outstanding! 

Masahiro Tanaka is an experienced and talented hurler but is unlikely to be at his best tonight given that this is only his 2nd start since returning from injury. He was dealing with a hamstring issue a couple of weeks ago and made just one appearance since returning from DL before coming into this high-pressure situation where NY is at home and inevitably facing more scrutiny than the visitors. Unlike Keuchel, he's not coming into this contest firing on all cylinders and is likely to be less sharp in the first couple of innings before he finds his form. He would have benefitted from a few more starts prior to this KEY clash as it would have helped him regain full strength and a feel for all his pitches. He lasted just 5 innings in his final regular season start of the season against the Red Sox giving up 4 runs! It's also worth noting that he was hit incredibly hard in his lone previous outing against this aggressive Houston squad. The Yankees might have the best 8th and 9th inning relievers in the Majors in Betances and Andrew Miller but they are inferior in nearly every other area compared to the Astros and might have a difficult time bridging the gap.

Houston Astros finished the season with a solid 86-76 mark but further inspection reveals that their seasonal figure could have in fact been MUCH better. That's because their run differential of 111 is rivaled by only the Toronto Blue Jays! The Astros allowed 80 less runs than the Yankees on the season while the two offenses are fairly similar in terms of power numbers. Houston has actually hit more dingers and also owns a higher .OPS than New York but their main advantage on offense may well be that they steal a LOT more bases! The fact that they can slug it out with the best of them (230 homers) but also play small ball very well makes them an incredibly dangerous group. They have numerous players with excellent speed and have swiped 121 bags which is nearly double that of the NY base-runners (63)!

Home field advantage goes to the Yankees but it also brings a ton of added pressure with it. After all, the Bronx club is expected to win nearly each and every time it plays at home and so even though they opened as underdogs, their demanding fanbase won't tolerate anything less than a victory, especially since they've missed the playoffs the last 2 years and may just be one and done after tonight. The media pressure is immense on this ball club and yet they aren't exactly at their most confident right about now. The Yankees got swept in Baltimore to end the season and have lost 6 of their last 7 games overall! The offense goes hot and cold with great inconsistency while injuries haven't helped their cause. The untimley news that CC Sabathia is checking into rehab for alcohol issues will have also provided an unnecessary distraction to the clubhouse. New York needed to win just one of its final 3 games to secure home field advantage for this Wild Card game but failed to do so. Luckily for them, it didn't ultimately matter as the Astros just missed out (1 game behind) with a series finale loss in Arizona. Nontheless, the fact that this squad is limping into the playoffs doesn't bode well for them against a young Houston team that has a lot of swagger and momentum. Astros won 6 of their last 8 games to secure their playoff position and registered 8 or more hits in all final eight games! Now they face a righty who isn't 100% and their record against right-handed starters speaks for itself.

Whether you look at offense, starting pitching matchup or defense, it is AJ Hinch's squad that has the advantage. The Astros 'shift' more than any other MLB club and often with great results. Their fielding percentage ranks right up there with the very best and they rarely make errors. With Dallas Keuchel being a sinkerball pitcher, they also induce a lot of ground ball double-plays and against a NY squad that has some aging legs like Alex Rodriguez, Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann, they may just turn a few more double outs! Andrew Miller is the better closer and Dellin Betances is as good an 8th inning pitcher as there is in Major League Baseball, but outside of those two individuals, Houston has the edge almost everywhere else and should win this game. They are simply the better ball club this year and should have been installed as -125 favorites by our estimates. Given that the oddsmakers couldn't make the popular Yankees such clear-cut home underdogs in risk of getting too much action on them and not being able to balance the books, they opened the odds much shorter but still made the visiting club with an inferior regular season record, the favorites! That itself, says a lot.

Other notable facts to consider:

  • Astros have won 4 of their last 6 visits to Yankee Stadium.
  • NY bats own just a .228 on-base percentage against Dallas Keuchel in 89 previous at-bats!
  • Astros rank second out of 30 Major League teams in home runs (230) this season!
  • Astros have won 21 of 28 games this season when Keuchel starts and the total is set at 7 to 8.5 runs!

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