Posted on October 16, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine
Things are heating up in the ALCS between the New York Yankees and Houston Astros heading into Wednesday’s Game 4. After the Yankees took Game 1, the Astros have won two in a row, including Tuesday’s Game 3. The pressure has now shifted to the Yankees, who will feel it necessary to win the next two games at home in order to stay alive. That challenge starts with Wednesday’s Game 4 back at Yankee Stadium.
Rain in the Forecast
The biggest question heading into Game 4 is whether or not it’ll actually be played on Wednesday. MLB is closely monitoring a weather forecast that calls for rain in New York Wednesday night. It’s become a real possibility that Game 4 will have to be pushed to Thursday, eliminating Friday’s scheduled off day for Game 5. If that happens, it’ll shake up the rotation of both teams while creating the possibility that the Astros and Yankees could play the final four games of the series on four consecutive days. Such a schedule could put added strain on the bullpen of each team, which could be a particular concern for the Yankees, who have leaned on their bullpen heavily, getting only 6.2 innings out of their starters over the last two games of the series.
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Speaking of bullpens, both teams are planning to make Game 4 a bullpen game, at least if it’s played on Wednesday. For the Astros, Brad Peacock and rookie Jose Urquidy would likely be asked to provide a little bit of length with the hope that the Astros can get a lead to closer Roberto Osuna and their other late-inning relievers. However, if Game 4 is pushed back to Thursday, the Astros will likely start Zack Greinke and then use their bullpen for Game 6.
The Yankees have similar plans for a bullpen game in Game 4. Chad Green would likely start the game, as he was used as an “opener” frequently during the regular season. Behind him, the Yankees could get multiple innings out of J.A. Happ, CC Sabathia, and Jonathan Loaisiga. Plus, after closer Aroldis Chapman wasn’t used on Tuesday, he could pitch multiple innings as well. Meanwhile, the Yankees would likely bring Masahiro Tanaka back in Game 4 if it’s postponed until Thursday.
Aside from the weather, Giancarlo Stanton could be the biggest X-factor in the ALCS heading into Game 4. Stanton has been sidelined the last two games because of a quad strain, but the Yankees remain hopeful that he won’t have to be removed from the roster. Stanton went 2 for 4 with a home run in Game 1, so the Yankees would surely love to get his bat in the lineup after scoring just three runs over the past two games. If Game 4 is pushed back until Thursday, it could increase the chances of Stanton becoming a factor. However, the Yankees continue to evaluate their options with regard to replacing Stanton on the roster.
Despite getting a lot of innings out of their bullpen the last two games, a bullpen game from both teams would favor the Yankees in Game 4. If rain pushes the game back to Thursday, Tanaka starting would also give New York a good chance to win given his excellent postseason history. No matter when it’s played, the Yankees need Game 4 and they’ll find a way to get it. New York wins 8-6.
Note: This prediction is the opinion of the author and not necessarily the prediction of Jon Price or Sports Information Traders.