The Yankees were in danger of losing home-field advantage in the Wild Card game yesterday, after winning just one of their last seven games. There were several outcomes that could have resulted in two teams playing a 163rd game tiebreaker today to decide who would win the second Wild Card spot, but the Rangers' win locked the Astros into the second spot. After the Yankees lost, the matter of home-field advantage came down to the Astros game and since they lost, the Wild Card game will be played at Yankee Stadium. If the game ended up being played in Houston, it's likely that some Yankee fans would have been upset with Joe Girardi for resting players after they clinched a spot in the Wild Card game. However, history has shown that home-field advantage is not that important, at least not when it comes to games played early in the postseason. It may be a small sample size, but since the second wild card spot was added back in 2012, the teams with home-field advantage in the Wild Card game have gone 2-4 in the one-game playoff. So while it could be important later in the postseason, in the case of this Wild Card game, home-field advantage doesn't seem to give the Yankees much of an advantage at all.
Based on their head-to-head record this season, the Yankees and Astros are pretty evenly matched. This season, the Yankees have winning records both at home and on the road. They went 45-36 at home, and 42-38 on the road, so they are capable of winning anywhere. Meanwhile, the Astros went 53-28 at home, compared to an ugly 33-47 record on the road. When the two teams played during the regular season, the Yankees won three of the seven games. Dallas Keuchel is expected to start tomorrow night's game, and the Yankees faced off against him twice earlier this season and lost both of those games. The Yankees were only shutout by an opponent six times this season, and one of those times was against Keuchel on the road when the Astros won 4-0. The other game was the 15-1 loss at home that ended with Brendan Ryan making his pitching debut.
The good news is that Keuchel will be starting tomorrow's Wild Card game on just three days of rest, which is not something that he has done before. Although he was able to hold the Yankees to just one run at Yankee Stadium, he performed worse on the road than at home all season. At home, Keuchel somehow maintained a perfect 15-0 record with a 1.46 ERA, 0.88 WHIP and 9.7 K/9 through 129.1 IP. Meanwhile, he finished the season with a 5-8 record on the road, along with a 3.77 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 6.8 K/9. He's still really good on the road, but the Yankees' best chance of beating Keuchel all season should come tomorrow night.
Masahiro Tanaka will get the start for the Yankees, and he only pitched against the Astros once this season. The Yankees ended up winning the game in Houston, 9-6, but Tanaka gave up six earned runs along with three home runs in that game. Unlike Keuchel, Tanaka has performed slightly better on the road than he has at home this season. He finished the season with a 3.24 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and 8.2 K/9 on the road, compared to a 3.71 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and 8 K/9 at home. The biggest difference is that Tanaka gave up 17 home runs at Yankee Stadium, yet only gave up eight on the road.
Speaking of home runs, the short porch in right field doesn't appear to give the Yankees any real advantage. According to ESPN Home Run Tracker, there were 27 home runs hit at Yankee Stadium this season that either wouldn't have been a home run in any other ballpark, or only would have been a home run in one other stadium. 15 of those 27 home runs were hit by Yankees. Six of those 27 home runs wouldn't have been a home run in any other stadium, but only three of those six were hit by Yankees. In other words, the short porch is fair game for both teams.
All things considered, it doesn't appear that the Yankees have much of an advantage just because the Wild Card game is being played at Yankee Stadium. Keuchel might be worse on the road, but Tanaka gives up more home runs at home. It really is anybody's game.
Do you think that having home-field advantage gives the Yankees a leg up on the Astros?