Posted on October 11, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine
As most have anticipated for much of the season, this year’s ALCS will feature the Houston Astros and New York Yankees, a rematch of the ALCS from 2017 that saw the Astros advance in seven games on their way to winning the World Series. It wasn’t so easy for Houston to get here, as the Astros were pushed in a five-game series with the Rays while the Yankees sat back and rested after sweeping away the Twins. Nevertheless, the series we all expected and wanted is upon us and now we can finally take a look at how these two teams match up against one another.
Offense – Advantage Yankees
The Yankees scored a few more runs than the Astros during the regular season and they’ve also looked a little better during the postseason. Surprisingly, the Yankees didn’t even need their big power bats like Aaron Judge Giancarlo Stanton, and Gary Sanchez in the ALDS. Those guys were just 5 for 23 with no extra-base hits against the Twins. Yet, the Bronx Bombers hit five home runs and eight doubles while scoring 21 runs in three games against the Twins. In other words, the New York lineup is deep and doesn’t need everyone clicking at once to be dangerous.
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The Astros, meanwhile, looked susceptible to Tampa’s top-notch pitching for large chunks of the ALDS. George Springer and Michael Brantley struggled to get going at the top of the lineup while Carlos Correa and Josh Reddick made limited contributions at the bottom. To be fair, Alex Bregman is an MVP candidate and Jose Altuve was outstanding against the Rays. But the Astros need to get a few more guys on track if they’re going to match the kind of firepower the Yankees have.
Rotation – Advantage Astros
This is a huge strength for the Astros heading into the ALCS. Gerrit Cole was close to unhittable in his two starts against the Rays. Justin Verlander wasn’t bad either in his two starts, although the Astros would be wise to avoid pitching him on short rest again. The only question is what the Astros get in the three games that aren’t started by Verlander and Cole. Wade Miley struggled in relief and Zack Greinke had a disastrous outing in his ALDS start.
As for the Yankees, their starters were passable during the ALDS. Luis Severino was electric but only lasted four innings in his start against the Twins. The Yankees will need him to make two starts and go at least five or six innings against Houston. The good news for New York is that Masahiro Tanaka continued to live up to his reputation as a reliable postseason pitcher. However, lefty James Paxton was less convincing in his first postseason start while JA Happ isn’t a sure thing after a modest 2019 campaign.
Bullpen – Advantage Yankees
This is an area of strength that the Yankees have to take advantage of in the ALCS. Despite a couple of injury scares, both Aroldis Chapman and Zack Britton look fine to anchor the back end of the bullpen against the Astros. With Chad Green, Adam Ottavino, and Tommy Kahnle, the Yankees have so much depth that Aaron Boone will spend more games just trying to turn the game over to his bullpen with a lead.
Of course, Houston’s bullpen has come along way since the 2017 postseason when they were a huge liability. Roberto Osuna and Will Harris are the main guys along with Ryan Pressly. The hope is that the likes of Joe Smith and Josh James can continue to give the Astros good innings in middle relief so that they can try to match the depth the Yankees have.
Prediction – Yankees in 7
The Astros may be the favorites, but after the National League saw two upsets in the Division Series, the American League will get one in the LCS. The Yankees may be slight underdogs, but their bullpen is top-notch and their lineup is as close to healthy as they’ve been all year. At some point, they’ll steal a win against either Verlander or Cole, and that’ll be the difference in the series. New York wins in seven games.
Note: This prediction is the opinion of the author and not necessarily the prediction of Jon Price or Sports Information Traders.