Also, according to YES Network researcher James Smyth, this is the 38th postseason series between the MLB leader in runs scored (Yankees with 943) and a top-two team in runs allowed (Astros were second with 640). In the previous 37 series, the leader in runs scored holds a slight 19-18 edge.
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|In Games 1-4 of the ALDS, Astros hitting machine Michael Brantley went 2 for 16 with five strikeouts, and the two hits came in Game 1. He went 0 for 4 in Game 2, Game 3, and Game 4.||The longer series could mean the Yankees will push their starters deeper into the game and/or rely on their second-tier relievers like Luis Cessa and Jonathan Loaisiga to get key outs at some point. It should be noted Paxton and Tanaka have severe splits the third time through the batting order:||The longer series could mean the Yankees will push their starters deeper into the game and/or rely on their second-tier relievers like Luis Cessa and Jonathan Loaisiga to get key outs at some point. It should be noted Paxton and Tanaka have severe splits the third time through the batting order:||The longer series could mean the Yankees will push their starters deeper into the game and/or rely on their second-tier relievers like Luis Cessa and Jonathan Loaisiga to get key outs at some point. It should be noted Paxton and Tanaka have severe splits the third time through the batting order:||.496||.496||It sounds weird to say a two-time All-Star is breaking out, but that is exactly what Gleyber Torres is doing. The Yankees second baseman went 5 for 12 (.417) with four extra-base hits in the ALDS sweep over the Twins, and he made several sparkling defensive plays as well.|
Hicks is indeed on the ALCS roster. It’s unclear how he will be used — “I would say he could potentially be a starter, be off the bench, not be on (the roster),” Boone said earlier this week — but it’s likely Hicks will at least replace Stanton for defense in the late innings. The Yankees have stuck with Stanton in left, Brett Gardner in center, and Judge in right this postseason.
1. The season series was even
That will undoubtedly influence how long Boone sticks with them in a close postseason game. Chances are the Yankees will not be able to use Adam Ottavino, Zack Britton, and Tommy Kahnle in every single ALCS game, which is advantage Astros. (This is where the Yankees miss the injured Dellin Betances.)
I reckon we’ll see the Astros try to combat those big power right-handed bats in New York’s lineup with a steady diet of breaking balls, with high-velocity fastballs effectively serving as a show-me pitch. Here’s a look at Gleyber’s great all-around effort in the Game 3 clincher. He had a homer, two doubles, and a fantastic defensive play to snuff out a rally. Few teams in baseball boast as much collective fastball velocity as the Astros and Yankees. There are two of the hardest-throwing teams in the game. Here is the regular season average four-seam fastball velocity leaderboard: Then, in Game 5, Brantley contributed to the four-run first inning with an opposite field single, plus he swatted an insurance run solo homer in the eighth inning. His final swing was the best swing he took in the entire ALDS.
2. This is a historic matchup
- 1912 World Series: Red Sox (105-47) over Giants (103-48)
- 2018 ALCS: Red Sox (108-54) over Astros (103-59)
Thursday, Oct. 17*
3. The ALCS is the velocity series
It’s not often two teams this good meet in a postseason series. In fact, this is only the third postseason series in baseball history with two 103-plus win teams. Here are the other two:
- New York Mets: 95.0 mph
- Houston Astros: 94.6 mph
- Tampa Bay Rays: 94.4 mph
- Cincinnati Reds: 94.3 mph
- Chicago White Sox: 94.3 mph
- New York Yankees: 94.0 mph
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|Batting average||Slugging percentage|
|.404||Sunday, Oct. 13||7:38 p.m. ET|
|Somewhat surprisingly, the Yankees will have center fielder Aaron Hicks for the ALCS. He’s been out since early August with an elbow injury, and there was some concern he would need Tommy John surgery. Hicks was thought to be done for the year. Instead, he rehabbed on his own and against doctor’s orders. From NJ.com’s Brendan Kuty:||8:08 p.m. ET||Saturday, Oct. 19*|
|Sunday, Oct. 20*||at Yankee Stadium||Velocity is not everything — spin rate, location, and sequencing all matter — but it’s not nothing either. The more velocity the pitcher has, the less time the hitter has to react, and we’re going to see lots of velocity in the ALCS. As for hitting big velocity, the Yankees have a decided advantage there. Here are the regular season numbers against pitches at 95 mph or better:|
Boone was very aggressive with his bullpen in the ALDS. He removed Paxton with two outs in the fourth inning of Game 1 to get the matchup he wanted, and he mixed and matched his way through the final five innings of Game 3. The Yankees have a great bullpen and they understandably leaned on it.
4. The Astros couldn’t line up their rotation
Game 4 is currently TBA vs. TBA. It seems unlikely either team would use their Game 1 starter on short rest in Game 4. The Astros could go with Jose Urquidy or Wade Miley depending on their long relief needs in Games 1-3. The Yankees could start J.A. Happ in Game 4, or, more likely, pair Happ with an opener (Chad Green) if their bullpen situation makes it possible.
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5. Yankees will have to manage their bullpen differently
Minute Maid Park
Prediction: Pain. For both teams, really. This series should be intense and well-played, with multiple back-and-forth games. That means exciting baseball for non-Astros and non-Yankees fans, and stressful baseball for Astros and Yankees fans. The official CBS Sports ALCS prediction: Astros in six. The Yankees beat Verlander in Game 2 but lose a Game 4 battle of the bullpens. George Springer hits three homers in the six games to win ALCS MVP honors. It has been foretold.
Minute Maid Park
|Fox||Astros||The Yankees owe the Rays a thank you. After falling behind 0-2 in the ALDS, the Rays rallied to force a decisive Game 5. Houston used Justin Verlander on short rest in Game 4 and Gerrit Cole on normal rest in Game 5. Neither of those two will be ready for Game 1 of the ALCS on Saturday.|
|.309/.347/.596||Wednesday, Oct. 16||The Yankees had a lead in the seventh inning or later in two of the losses in Houston, and the Astros did damage against the vaunted Yankees bullpen in two of those three losses in New York. These two teams played some intense games this year. That June 22 game is worth highlighting for all the back and forth in the late innings:|
|.305/.366/.508||First time through lineup||Yankees|
HOUSTON — The 2019 ALCS will be a heavyweight fight. The Houston Astros (107-55) and New York Yankees (101-59) begin their best-of-seven series Saturday at Minute Maid Park in Houston. These two clubs also met in the 2017 ALCS. The Astros won that series in seven games en route to the first World Series championship in franchise history.
Minute Maid Park
6. Brantley is getting hot at the right time
“It’s obviously a great team. Very well run,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said Thursday. “Obviously they’ve done a great job with their farm system of developing kind of homegrown superstars as well as making a lot of decisions, smart decisions of bringing in, whether via trade, via free agency. They’ve certainly kind of established themselves as the class of this league here the last few years. Hopefully we can ding it a little bit.”
Yankees center fielder Aaron Hicks was sitting on his couch in his Arizona home when he noticed his throwing elbow was feeling better than expected. With the Yankees, the focus is on Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, and understandably so. Torres might be their best all-around player though, and if he’s not now, I think he will be at this time next year. He’s a star and he’s doing it in October.
7. Torres is having a breakout postseason
4:08 or 8:08 p.m. ET The Astros finished with the better regular season record and thus have home-field advantage in the ALCS. . The Astros have been dominant at home this season. Games 1-2 will be played in Houston, Games 3-5 will be in New York, and Games 6-7 will be back in Houston. Here is the ALCS schedule.
8. The Yankees are getting some help
Two years ago the Astros beat the Yankees in the ALCS in seven games. The home team won all seven games that series. These two teams have seen each other plenty in recent years, though the 2017 ALCS won’t have any impact on the 2019 ALCS. Different players, different coaches, different year.
Remember, those are regular season averages. Pitching staffs shrink in the postseason as teams lean on their best arms, so I’m willing to bet the average fastball velocity in October is higher than it is from April through September.
at Minute Maid Park .282
The Yankees swept the Twins in the ALDS and earned the right to rest their players this past week, and line up their ALCS rotation however they wanted. The Astros are stuck starting whoever lines up to pitch that day. The choices were made for them. Granted, the Astros have a stacked rotation, so they’re always going to send a quality starter out there, but no one will have extra rest.