The New York Yankees have done the unthinkable and are going to play in the ALCS against the Houston Astros starting in a couple of hours. The Yankees have overachieved this season and anything positive they do in this series is an additional cherry on top of the cherry that is already on the top of the sundae, so the Yanks do not have much to lose this series. The Astros came into the season hoping to contend for the World Series and they are just four wins away from getting to the World Series, all the pressure at the start of the series is on the Astros.
The Astros had a great regular season which included winning over a 100 games and running away with the AL West. The Astros have a great young core and are getting timely contributions from veterans on the team. The Astros are built to win now and that was evident in the regular season and in the ALDS against the Red Sox. The Astros beat the Sox in four games, but the series was never in doubt.
The Astros have a great offense and great one and two pitchers in the rotation that is going to cause major problems for the Yankees in this series. The Astros are the clear favorites to get to the World Series as we sit just hours away from the start of the ALCS.
The Yankees were going to use this year as a transition year, they were building for the future, hoping to contend in 2018 and 2019, but here they are in the ALCS in 2017. The Yankees got outstanding seasons from their young players who have bloomed way earlier than expected and the veterans on the team are covering all the holes left by the young players on the team.
The major reason they got to the Postseason was because of the Baby Bombers, but the reason they are in the ALCS is because of the veteran presence on the team. The key players that make up the Baby Bombers have had struggles in the Postseason, but the veterans have made sure that the team advances in each round. Luis Severino was awful in the Wild Card game, but the veteran bullpen and the offense led by Didi Gregorious, who has been on the team for three years, bailed out Sevy and got the win for the Yanks. In the ALDS, the young bash brothers, Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge really struggled, but veterans like Didi, Brett Gardner, and Todd Frazier took over the offense and won the series for the Yankees.
The Yanks were down 0-2 in the ALDS against the Indians, but veteran starter Masahiro Tanaka pitched a gem in Game 3, to get some life back in the Yankees and they used that momentum to win the next three games and win the series. The mix of veterans and Baby Bombers will need to work together to beat the Astros in this series and advance to the World Series.
The offense in the ALDS was not great, but got the job done. After being completely shut down in Game 1, they recovered nicely in Game 2, but could not win the game. Game 3, was a 1-0 win for the Yanks, in which Greg Bird broke the tie and did just enough to win the game. The offense came alive in Game 4 and Game 5, to compliment the great pitching and win the series.
The Yankee offense has had trouble against the Astros pitching in the past, especially Dallas Keuchel, who is the Game 1 starter. If the Yankees can get to Keuchel tonight and Justin Verlander tomorrow night, then I think they have a great chance to win the series.
The pitching started really poor in the series, but was exceptional at the end of the series. Sonny Gray did not have a good Game 1, never giving the offense a chance to come back into the game. The Yankee management was alarmed by the poor start of Gray and are not going to pitch him till Game 4 of this series, which would almost two weeks since his last start.
CC Sabathia did not look great in Game 2 and could not quiet the Indians bats and protect the lead for the Yanks, however CC vindicated himself in the series by pitching a great Game 5, which helped the Yanks win the series. CC will need to be great in this series as he is currently slotted to pitch Game 3 and a possible Game 7 in the ALCS.
Masahiro Tanaka and Luis Severino had great starts in the ALDS and will be pitching the first two games of this series, with Tanaka going tonight and Sevy tomorrow night. The Astros have the best offense in baseball, so the rotation cannot afford to have any bad starts if the Yankees want to win the series.
The bullpen was great in the ALDS in every game except for Games 1 and 2. The bullpen could not keep the game close in Game 1 and gave up the lead in Game 2 and then lost the game in extras. The bullpen was outstanding in Games 3, 4, and 5, which the Yankees won. See the trend. The Yankees tend to win games in which the bullpen is outstanding and the Bombers will rely on the bullpen to win this series.
This series is going to be an instant classic, both teams are evenly matched for the most part and the series will go atleast six games. The Astros have a slightly better offense than the Yankees, but the Yankees have the better rotation and bullpen to even things out. I think either team can win the series, but the Astro offense will be too much to handle for the Yankees and their inability to succeed against Dallas Keuchel will lead them to lose this series in six games.
I will be on Periscope in the ninth inning of all the close games of this series, so you should come watch me as I slowly die. You can do that by following the blog on Twitter.