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Astros vs. Yankees matchups

13 October, 2017, 18:25 | Author: Alberta Rodriguez
  • MLB playoffs A.J. Hinch feels Keuchel Verlander give Astros 'huge advantage'

"I don't think anyone who goes through a season has a ideal season", Judge said.

And for those interested in making a friendly wager, OddsShark.com has the Astros as minus-175 favorites for Game 1. "They have been able to go out there and perform", Beltran said.

Thanks in part to Altuve, the Astros wielded Major League Baseball's most prolific offense during the regular season. They're going to hit their home runs, but they're going to do a lot of other things offensively. They're a strong match for the Astros and this ALCS appears to be an utter tossup.

The stakes: The Yankees haven't played in the ALCS since 2012, an eternity when measured in Steinbrenner Years.

The Yankees deadline moves are paying off, with closer Aroldis Chapman and erratic setup man Dellin Betances aided by power arms David Robertson, Tommy Kahnle and Chad Green.

Jose Altuve just hit his second home run.

Playing with the confidence that got them to this point, nipped at the wire by the Cleveland Indians by one game in the race for the AL's overall regular-season title, wouldn't hurt either. Their usual No. 9 hitter is McCann, a seven-time all-star who has averaged 22 homers the past 12 seasons. Four of those strikeouts Wednesday night belonged to Judge, who hit just.050 with 16 strikeouts in 20 at-bats in the series.

It should be concerning to Yankee fans that the trio of Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and Chase Headley were a combined 5-for-55 in the ALDS. Former Albuquerque Academy Charger Alex Bregman and Rio Grande Graduate Ken Giles have been major contributors to this playoff Houston team.

For all of the similarities between the teams, there is at least a little daylight between them when it comes to the starting pitching, at least a difference in kind if not overall quality.

While the Astros have a pitching staff full of flamethrowers - bolstered by the addition of former Cy Young Award victor Justin Verlander in August - they have chosen lefty Dallas Keuchel, the softest-tossing pitcher on their staff (88.7 miles per hour average fastball), to start Game 1 for them Friday night, opposite Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka. After that it's somewhat fluid, with some combination of Brad Peacock, Charlie Morton and possibly Lance McCullers slotting in Games 3, 4 and 5.

The choice of Keuchel to start Game 1 was an easy one, especially after the Astros needed Verlander for 40 pitches in relief in their decisive Game 4 win at Boston on Monday. The Astros bullpen is good, but not spectacular, so you might likewise see starters in relief depending on the situation, just as we saw Verlander pitch in relief against Boston on Monday. That made him 3-0 with a 2.29 ERA in four postseason appearances with three starts.

Masahiro Tanaka is an ace to be sure, but he had an overall down year and has struggled mightily on the road (6.38 ERA in 15 starts), so he'll be closely watched as he takes the bump in Minute Maid Park tonight. CC Sabathia will start Game 3 on Monday when the series moves to NY. With Charlie Morton and Brad Peacock filling out the Astros rotation, the depth advantage goes to the Yankees. Houston won the season series 5-2 over the Yankees, taking two of three at home and three of four in the Bronx. The last of those seven games came on July 2, however, so don't put too much weight in the predictive power of their previous matchups.

"They've got high-end velocity", Hinch said.

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