Yankees v. Astros: Duel for the Pennant
The Yankees, a franchise that boasts 27 World Series titles, will face off with the Houston Astros, who are looking to win their first World Series title in franchise history. This will be an ALCS for the ages. To make it to the ALCS, the Astros beat the Red Sox in a convincing four game series, where they displayed their dominant starting pitching and blisteringly hot offense. The Yankees made it to the ALCS by defeating the Cleveland Indians in a crazy five game series that saw them come back from an 0-2 deficit. Both teams have faced plenty of adversity and are looking to show the world that they are the best team in the American League.
The Houston Astros were led through the ALDS thanks to the dominant starting pitching of Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander, and also thanks to the top of their lineup, which mashed against the Red Sox. So far in the playoffs, the Astros are hitting .333 as a team, with eight home runs and 22 RBIs. Their relief pitching raises some red flags, as four relief pitchers have an ERA above 6.00, however I have a feeling that this will correct itself in the ALCS. The problem with the Astros is that they relied heavily on their offense to put them above the Red Sox, and during the regular season the team hit .282 as a team, which was first in the MLB. In fact, the Astros led the MLB in most offensive categories, with the one exception being Triples, which the Diamondbacks led the league in, and they got swept away by the Dodgers. The real question in this series is how the Astros can perform against the Yankees dominant bullpen. I have confidence that the Astros can rough up some of the Yankee starters, most likely Sonny Gray and Luis Severino, but the Yankees bullpen was incredibly dominant against the Indians and the Astros could have their work cut out for them. I expect the dominance from the top of the Astros lineup to continue, and for Jose Altuve to have another huge series.
The Yankees were not even supposed to make the playoffs, they were supposed to be “a year away” from playoff contention, but the Yankees are here, they made it. They made it through the Wild Card game after falling down early, and the bullpen had to record 8.2 outs, which is absurd, but they did it. The Yankees beat the Twins in the Wild Card, and were facing what many considered to be the best team in baseball, the Cleveland Indians. The Yankees saw the first two games slip away from them, and then rallied to win the next three and take the series. The Yankees have been led by their dominant bullpen so far in the playoffs, as well as their potent offense. I think the key for the Yankees in this series is to shut down the Astros offense as much as they possibly can. My issue with the Yankees in this series is that the bullpen has had an extremely high workload in the postseason so far, so I have concerns as to when they will begin to fatigue or falter. Aaron Judge has not been good so far this October, and I think that if he can’t figure it out, then the Yankees are in trouble.
Now, I think that the Astros will win this series in six games, and will go on to win the World Series. I have this series going six games because the Astros only have two starters that I feel can be dominant in all of their postseason starts. I think that Justin Verlander and Dallas Keuchel will put the Astros in a position to win their starts, and I imagine them starting two games each, which gives the Astros four wins in six games, as most team use a four-man rotation in the playoffs. I think the Yankees will win two games at home, but will struggle mightily in Houston. I am looking forward to this series, and I hope whoever wins will go on to eviscerate the NL representative in the World Series.