WhatIfSports American League Wild Card prediction: Astros advance

Dallas Keuchel and the Astros win comfortably in our Wild Card simulation.

Bob Levey/Getty Images

This is what makes baseball great. These teams couldn’t be more different from one another.

It has been six years since the New York Yankees won their 27th World Series title. As for the Houston Astros, they haven’t made the postseason since 2005, and have yet to win an MLB championship.

The Yankees have a total payroll just north of $219 million for 2015 (second-most in MLB). The Astros are spending about $81 million (25th).

Houston has built through the draft. Jason Castro, George Springer and Carlos Correa were all first-round picks for the Astros. New York credits most of its lineup to free-agent signings and trades.

However, here they are, both playing for the chance to advance into the ALDS.

The Astros will send the AL’s wins leader (20 wins), Dallas Keuchel, to the mound. Keuchel has won three straight and allowed no more than two earned runs in each of those starts. If you look at his splits, you will see Keuchel is 15-0 at home with a 1.46 ERA and 5-8 on the road (3.77 ERA). However, on August 25, this was Keuchel’s line at Yankee Stadium: 7 IP, 0 ER, and 9 Ks.

As for the Yankees, Masahiro Tanaka gets the nod. New York has lost in three of his last four appearances. Also, on June 27, Tanaka was tagged with six earned runs in five innings of work against the Astros.

Offensively, Jose Altuve led the Astros this season with 200 hits (.313 AVG). Evan Gattis tallied the most home runs (27 HR) and RBI (88) on the club.

Surprisingly, Chase Headley led the Yankees with 150 hits (.259 AVG) this season. Alex Rodriguez hit at least 30 home runs for the 15th time in his career. His 33 homers were the most for the Yankees in 2015. Brian McCann tied a career-high with 94 RBI this season. That was enough to lead the Yankees this year, too.

So which team wins this Wild Card matchup? We played a game between the Astros and Yankees 101 times using our MLB simulation engine. The Astros cruised in the simulation, winning 74.3 percent of contests by an average score of 6.6-3.8. 

Keuchel was exceptional, posting a 3.65 ERA with a .233 OAV. Tanaka, meanhwile, struggled mightily to the tune of a 6.75 ERA and .261 OAV. Several Astros hitters were particularly effective against the Yankees. Standouts included Springer (.298 AVG, .364 OBP), Correa (.288 AVG, .344 OBP) and Altuve (.286 AVG, .332 OBP). 

AL Wild Card: Astros vs. Yankees
Team Win % Avg. Score
Houston Astros 74.3 6.6
@ New York Yankees 25.7 3.8
Simulate Houston Astros vs. New York Yankees

Note: our prediction used each team’s 25-man playoff roster, while MLB SimMatchup includes all eligible players from the 2015 season so that theoretical and "what if" scenarios can be simulated.