Posted on October 15, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine
Two games into the ALCS, it already feels like the epic series everyone wanted to see between the New York Yankees and Houston Astros. Game 1 may have gotten away from Houston a little, with the Yankees winning 7-0, but Game 2 more than made up for it, giving us 11 tense innings and a memorable walk-off win. With the series tied 1-1, things shift back to New York for Game 3 with a Tuesday matinee.
Relying on the Pen
Just two games into the series and already Yankees manager Aaron Boone has shown how willing he is to go to his bullpen early, taking James Paxton out with one out in the 3rd inning of Game 2. The day off on Monday should serve the New York bullpen well, but the Yankees still needed over seven innings of work from their bullpen in Game 2. Chad Green and Tommy Kahnle, specifically, both worked at least two innings. The Yankees figure to have the edge in any game that turns into a battle of the bullpens. However, Boone has to think about having three straight games without an off day before he decides to pull his starter.
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The Yankees will hope that Luis Severino can give them some length in Game 3. The 25-year-old looked sharp during the ALDS against the Twins but was removed after four innings and 83 pitches. After not pitching until September this season, the Yankees probably shouldn’t expect more than four or five innings out of Severino on Tuesday. The key arms in the back of the bullpen like Aroldis Chapman and Zack Britton should be well rested, so the Yankees can live with five innings from Severino. They just need to make sure they’re five good innings against Houston’s potent lineup.
Severino will likely be trying to match scoreless innings with Gerrit Cole, who will make his first appearance of the series. Cole was nothing short of lights out against the Rays in the ALDS, allowing one run on six hits over 15.2 innings. He struck out 25 and walked just three during that span. Cole faced the Yankees just once this season, allowing three runs over seven innings, although that start was in early April.
For the Yankees, Giancarlo Stanton is the X-factor in Game 3. He sat out Game 2 with a quad injury, but the Yankees would love to have him back. He’s 3 for 10 with a double and home run in his career against Cole. Of course, Cameron Maybin, who started in Stanton’s place in Game 2, is 4 for 9 against Cole.
Meanwhile, Josh Reddick could be the X-factor for the Astros. Kyle Tucker and Josh Marisnick have started in his place the first two games of the series after he went 1 for 10 in the ALDS. However, Reddick is 5 for 11 with three doubles against Severino, so he might get another chance in Game 3.
It’s impossible to bet against Cole the way he has pitched in his two starts against the Rays. The Yankees, of course, present a great challenge, especially at hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium. But with the way Cole was missing bats in the ALDS, he can keep runners off base and limit the damage if he gives up a home run. With the Yankees likely needing a bridge to get from Severino to Britton and Chapman, the Astros will have a chance to score a few runs. Houston wins 4-2.
Note: This prediction is the opinion of the author and not necessarily the prediction of Jon Price or Sports Information Traders.