Posted on October 19, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine

New York Yankees Aaron Hicks
Image via nydailynews.com

The New York Yankees are down but they’re not yet out. With their backs against the wall, the Bronx Bombers came up with a 4-1 win over the Houston Astros in Friday’s Game 5, forcing the series back to Houston. Due to the rainout on Wednesday, there is no travel day for the two teams. That means Game 6 of the ALCS is on tap for Saturday night with the Yankees once again facing elimination and the Astros one win away from getting back to the World Series.

Alive But Not Kicking

The Yankees are alive after winning Game 5, but they may not be back on track offensively just yet. They jumped on Justin Verlander in the first inning with home runs by D.J. LeMahieu and Aaron Hicks to account for all four of their runs. However, New York managed just one hit during the rest of the game. A number of key hitters have yet to produce anything during the ALCS, specifically the bottom half of the order, which is usually as dangerous as the top half of the lineup. Other than LeMahieu and Gleyber Torres, the Yankees have underperformed offensively this series. That needs to change if they’re going to have a chance to win games in Houston.

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Pitching Matchup

After the rainout in Game 4 and the lack of an off day, both teams will turn Game 6 into a bullpen game. The good news for both teams is that they got plenty of length from their starter in Game 5. The Astros only needed one inning out of their bullpen, so they should have everyone available on Saturday. Rookie Jose Urquidy will likely get the start. He’s made just one appearance during the postseason and is yet to pitch in this series. Beyond him, Josh James and Brad Peacock should help give the Astros some length before getting to their traditional late-game relievers. Of course, the Astros could use some of their best relievers earlier in the game should any trouble arise.

For the Yankees, Chad Green is the most likely candidate to start the game, as he was used as an “opener” several times this season. The Yankees could also use JA Happ, Luis Cessa, and Jonathan Loaisiga to pitch multiple innings. Ultimately, the Yankees could turn to Aroldis Chapman, Zack Britton, Adam Ottavino, and Tommy Kahnle to close out the late innings. All are candidates to get more than three outs, although Ottavino has been hit hard this series and Britton got five outs in Game 5, so he could be limited to one inning.

X-Factor

The biggest X-factor in Game 6 could be Houston leadoff hitter George Springer. He has two home runs in the ALCS despite hitting just .182. Most of the time, as he goes, as does the Houston offense. Despite leading the series, the Astros have only scored 16 runs over five games. Outside of Game 4, they haven’t exactly been clicking offensively. Only Michael Brantley and Jose Altuve have produced consistently during the series, making Springer at the top of the order a huge key if the Astros are going to close out the series on Saturday.

Prediction

In a bullpen game, the Yankees have to be looked at as the favorite. New York’s bullpen is deeper and should be more reliable with a lead in the late innings. The Astros have won during the playoffs because of their starting pitching, not their bullpen. The Yankees should see their bats start to come alive and push the series to a Game 7. New York wins 6-3.

Note: This prediction is the opinion of the author and not necessarily the prediction of Jon Price or Sports Information Traders.

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