HOUSTON -- The Astros didn't wait to find out their opponent before naming starters for Games 1 and 2 in the American League Championship Series presented by Camping World, as manager A.J. Hinch told reporters Wednesday that Dallas Keuchel will start Game 1 on Friday night and Justin Verlander will take Game 2 on Saturday.
The Yankees beat the Indians in five games in the AL Division Series presented by Doosan, advancing to face the Astros, who defeated the Red Sox in four games in their ALDS.
"Keuchel and Verlander are going to go one and two in that order," Hinch said. "I don't really care who we're facing, it's going to be that order. Then after that is where it gets a little thought-provoking, I guess. We'll adapt accordingly."
By starting Games 1 and 2, both Keuchel and Verlander would be able to pitch another game later in the series on normal or extended rest.
Keuchel beat the Red Sox in Game 2 of the ALDS, allowing one run and three hits in 5 2/3 innings. The left-hander is 5-2 with a 1.24 ERA in seven career starts against the Yankees, including the playoffs, and he pitched a complete game against the Indians earlier this year.
Verlander won Game 1 of the ALDS, allowing two runs and six hits in six innings against Boston, and then added 2 2/3 innings in relief in Game 4 on Monday, allowing one run. Considering he's played most of his career in the AL Central, Verlander has faced the Indians more than any other team, going 20-24 with a 4.71 ERA in 52 career starts.
The rest of the rotation is up in the air. Brad Peacock started Game 3 of the ALDS and Charlie Morton started Game 4, but Lance McCullers Jr., who was limited to 22 starts this season due to health issues, could wind up getting a start after pitching in long relief against the Red Sox.
"I've said -- at least for this stretch of playoff run that we've got going here -- I'm willing to do whatever we have to do to help the team win," McCullers said. "Obviously, I wasn't able to throw a lot of games in the second half, and when I did come back, I had to miss some games because of my shoulder. I understand going with the guys that had been out there, but I still feel like I have some of the best stuff to offer and give us one of the best chances to win."
Hinch said Astros are strongly considering carrying 12 pitchers -- they had 11 in the ALDS -- because there are three consecutive games -- if the series goes at least five games -- without a day off. Hard-throwing rookie Francis Martes is back working out with the club after being sent to Florida after the regular season to work out, so he's in the ALCS mix, along with Collin McHugh and Tyler Clippard.
Hinch said he's still considering infielder/outfielder Tony Kemp for the ALCS roster as well.
"Those last decisions are going to be dictated by who we play, but the names are the same," Hinch said. "We had the benefit of Game 1 and Game 2 of the last series to have Peacock and Morton both in the bullpen and readily available with McCullers as the backup plan to be in the rotation. It's not as easy to do over the course of three games in a row. We still have off-days in this series, but [we are] more likely to carry the extra pitcher."
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.