Before the season even began, the New York Yankees and Houston Astros were expected to meet in the playoffs. Now that they are both to this point, how will the series go? Christian De Block and Michael Seitz predict who they have advancing to the World Series from the American League.
New York Yankees vs. Houston Astros:
Christian De Block: While the NLCS includes two teams that were not expected to make it this far, the same cannot be said about the ALCS. The New York Yankees and the Houston Astros were heavy favorites to have deep postseason runs, which they have to this point. The Astros come into this series with plenty of rest, but will that lead to some rust in Game One & Game Two?
The New York Yankees are battle tested after a difficult five-game series against the Cleveland Guardians. On the brink of elimination in Game Four of the ALDS, Gerrit Cole had one of his signature playoff performances. The Yankees forced a Game Five at home, where they were able to ultimately defeat the Guardians to advance.
Frankie Montas and Oswald Peraza were added to the Yankees ALCS roster, so I’m interested to see what kind of impact they play in the series. Could we see Montas start a game at some point? Is Domingo German higher on the pecking order if the Yankees need a spot starter? These are questions we should have answers to over the week or so.
The Houston Astros trailed in two of the three games against the Seattle Mariners in the ALDS, yet they managed to sweep their division rival. Yordan Álvarez had the two biggest moments in the series, hitting a walk-off three-run home run in Game One and a go-ahead two-run home run in Game Two. The Astros finished the Mariners off by winning Game Three in 18 innings by a score of 1-0.
It’s hard to see a scenario where the Yankees win this series, but if they are going to do so, taking one of the first two games on the road is necessary. The Astros not only won five of seven in the regular season series, but they swept the Yankees in Houston. Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton will provide some punch for the Yankees, but it won’t be enough to advance over the well-rested Astros.
Series Prediction: Houston Astros in five.
Michael Seitz: Welp, the evil empires are back in the ALCS once again. The Astors swept the Mariners out of the Postseason in a series that was played extremely close. The Yankees were pushed to the brink by Cleveland before exterminating the Guardians in five games.
Houston has had the Yankees number in recent postseasons, beating them in two of the last four AL Championship Series. Houston has an advantage in both areas of pitching: starting rotation and bullpen. Houston is well-rested and has not played since Saturday. This allowed the Astros to reset its rotation and set up Justin Verlander and Framber Valdez for games one and two at home. Game Three will likely feature Lance McCullers, while Game Four gives manager Dusty Baker options depending on where the series is at that point. Don’t sleep on the Astros lineup, either. Houston can straight up mash the baseball and can beat you in many ways.
The Yankees had to throw everything and the kitchen sink at the Guardians to move on. That means starting pitchers on short rest and rendering them unavailable for the early part of this series. New York will likely send Jameson Taillon to the hill in Game One and Luis Severino to the mound for Game Two. This lines up Gerrit Cole and Nestor Cortes for games three and four back in the Bronx. Not only is it critical for the Yankees to win games three and four with its best arms on the mound, but, if New York could split the first two games in Houston, then the Astros would be on the ropes headed into the later part of the series. Another key for the Yankees this series is to get Aaron Judge going again. This means that his insanely high strikeout rate in the ALDS needs to dip dramatically.
In the end, I believe that the rest Houston has had will pay off for them. I also think the Astros are not only the better team here, but are the worst matchup in the league for the Yankees. This series goes five, maybe six.
Prediction: Houston Astros in five.