NEW YORK -- Jacoby Ellsbury will be on the bench to start the New York Yankees' biggest game of the season.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi has left Ellsbury, whom the Yankees signed for seven years and $153 million prior to the 2014 season, out of the lineup Tuesday night against Houston Astros ace Dallas Keuchel in the American League wild-card game.
Starting in the left-handed-hitting Ellsbury's place is righty hitterChris Young, who will play left field, while Brett Gardner will move into Ellsbury's center field position.
"It was something that I mulled over for a couple of days," Girardi said. "I think when it came down to it in the end, it was Gardy's numbers against left-handers this year compared to Jacoby's.''
Gardner hit .273 with three home runs, 22 RBIs and a .761 OPS against left-handers this year, but he's a career 0-for-4 against Keuchel. Ellsbury hit .253 with two HRs, 11 RBIs and a .652 OPS against southpaws but has two hits in seven at-bats against the Houston ace.
Young is 6-for-20 and has a .972 OPS in his career against Keuchel.
Girardi said he made the decision at 3 p.m. Tuesday.
"As I told [Ellsbury] today, 'You're going to be in this game,'" the manager said, "'so I need you ready.' He said, 'I'll be ready, don't worry.'''
"I told him I want to play," said Ellsbury, who spoke to the media for 31 seconds before the game. "But then I let him know I'll be ready to go at some point in the game. I'm willing to do whatever it takes for this team to win and we left it at that."
The rest of the Yankees' lineup against the left-handed Keuchelis similar to their usual one. Brian McCann(who also bats left-handed) is hitting fifth and behind the plate after the Yankees toyed with the idea of starting the right-handed-swinging John Ryan Murphy at catcher.
Gardner will lead off for the Yankees, followed by Young, right fielder Carlos Beltran, designated hitter Alex Rodriguez, McCann, third baseman Chase Headley, first baseman Greg Bird, second baseman Rob Refsnyder and shortstop Didi Gregorius.
Jacoby Ellsbury not in Yankees' lineup vs. Dallas Keuchel