Posted on October 20, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
The New York Yankees have done it again. For the second straight series, the Bronx Bombers lost the first two games, only to win the next three. The only difference is that this time around, they still have one more game to win in order to take the series. Meanwhile, the Houston Astros are down but not out. However, they are suddenly the team with their back against the wall, facing elimination during Friday’s Game 6. Of course, the Astros will get Game 6, and possibly Game 7, in front of their home fans, where they are 4-0 during the playoffs.
It’s All About Depth
The Astros took a 2-0 series lead behind the two aces at the top of their rotation, but the Yankees have taken the lead in the series in large part because of their pitching depth. C.C. Sabathia and Sonny Gray, New York’s third and fourth starters for the series, both outperformed their counterpart to help the Yankees even up the series. The depth the Yankees have in their bullpen has also played a role in this series. While the Astros have struggled to find reliable relief pitching, the Yankees keep rolling out hard-throwing relievers who have gotten the job done. Tommy Kahnle, Chad Green, and Adam Warren have combined for 11 innings in this series without allowing an earned run. With Aroldis Chapman waiting at the end of that line of setup men, it’s no wonder New York’s bullpen has been dominant in this series.
The Astros will go back to one of their aces in Game 6 in hopes of forcing a Game 7. Justin Verlander delivered a phenomenal performance against the Yankees in Game 2, and the Astros will need a similar outing on Friday night. Verlander went nine innings, striking out 13 and allowing just one run, eliminating any need for Houston’s bullpen. The Astros will no doubt be happy to have Verlander starting in Game 6. However, after throwing 124 pitches in Game 2, one has to wonder how much he’ll have left in the tank, even on regular rest.
The Yankees will also be happy to send Luis Severino to the mound in Game 6. Severino only lasted four innings in Game 2 after being hit on the wrist by a comebacker. But he’s pronounced himself healthy and he should be plenty fresh on Friday night. In those four innings, Severino only allowed one run on two hits, as he has bounced back well after a disastrous start in the Wild Card Game. There’s no doubt he’s anxious to get back on the mound and prove himself in a big spot against a difficult lineup.
The biggest X-factors in Game 6 are the two guys at the top of Houston’s batting order, George Springer and Josh Reddick. Those two were the catalysts for Houston’s offensive outburst during the ALDS, but they have turned into ghosts in this series. Against the Yankees, Springer and Reddick are a combined 2 for 35 with just one run scored. That has to change. Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, and the rest of Houston’s lineup can only do so much if the table setters at the top of the order aren’t getting on base. If those two players can’t get going, the Astros are going to have a difficult time winning Game 6 and extending the series.
It’d only be fitting for this series to go the distance. It’d be unfair to expect Verlander to replicate his performance from Game 2, but he won’t have to. Coming home will help to wake up Houston’s offense, giving Verlander and the Houston bullpen some breathing room, which should be enough for the Astros to push this series to a Game 7. Houston wins 5-3.