If Dan P was at home working on the computer this would be a bit of a stat filled analysis of a very intriguing series. But this will be an on the fly, on the phone look at the Astros and Yanks from the heart as much as from the brain.
Before the season there was a big focus on the Big 3 in the MLB: the defending champion Red Sox, Yanks and the Astros. After the Red Sox faltered and fell by the wayside the Dodgers filled their spot in the Big 3.
Now one round into the playoffs (sorry can’t count the wildcard play-in as a round) the Dodgers are gone at the hands of the Nats, the Astros had to go to the 5th game to finally knock out the Rays, and the Yanks swatted the Twins like a familiar fly in a 3 game sweep.
Folks will say the winner of the ALCS will be the Champions of the World, but what seems true on paper rarely makes it to the field. Both teams need to stay focused on each game and one challenge at a time.
The Astros are a Jekyl and Hyde team. At times they are a juggernaut and other times they seem like a meek shadow of themselves. They led the majors in the classic stats like BA, OBP and OPS and were lowest in Ks, but the Yanks scored a fraction more runs per game. The Yanks rode a record HR year this year to that run total. Both of these teams have tremendous depth in their lineups and when they do get on a roll they are a scary opponent. You could easily fill out an All Star team from these two lineups – Yuli Gurriel, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, George Springer, Michael Brantley, Yordan Alvarez, Gary Sanchez, Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, D.J. LeMahieu and Gleyber Torres.
The Astros have the two best pitchers in baseball in Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole and questions beyond. Zack Greinke looked very vulnerable in his only playoff start, Wade Miley looks like road kill, and Jose Urquidy has only started a handful of games and no playoff starts.
On the Yankee’s side one of their best pitchers Domingo German is suspended for domestic abuse charges. James Paxton, and Masahiro Tanaka lead a revised rotation with J.A. Happ backing them up.
The depth of both rotations are suspect, while the top of the rotations definitely favors the Astros.
The Yanks have a super top trio of Aroldis Chapman, Adam Ottavino and Zack Britton. The Astros bullpen is a bit shakier. Roberto Osuna can drop a bomb as well as put up a 1-2-3. Ryan Pressly is just back from injury and no sure thing. Will Harris may be the most dependable arm in the ‘pen.
The series may ride on the Astros home field advantage.
Totally Biased Prediction – Astros in 7 thrilling games.