The New York Yankees grinded out a phenomenal victory against Justin Verlander and the Houston Astros in their final home game before heading down south. Staving off elimination was no easy feat for the Bombers, who rode a four-run first inning to victory, thanks to a DJ LeMahieu leadoff homer and a three-run blast by Aaron Hicks shortly after.
Verlander was immediately stunned and will undoubtedly be disappointed in his performance Friday night, but he did manage to work his way into the seventh inning without allowing a run after his porous first-inning.
The Yankees have a tall task ahead of them in Houston; however, they may hold the advantage due to their solid bullpen. Game six of the ALCS will be what some call a “bullpen game,” as both teams will tap into their reserve pitchers to help either tie the series or close it once and for all.
The Yankees have the advantage in this category, as their bullpen has been stellar throughout the season, but the ALCS has imposed its will at times. The Astros have quality hitters up and down their lineup, which has proven to be difficult, especially in game four, when Chad Green allowed a three-run blast to Carlos Correa to secure the win for Houston.
Green, who has an 11-4 record when opening games this season, will help give the Yanks a running start on Saturday night, a quick turnaround due to a lost game on Wednesday (bad weather).
It seems, though, that starter James Paxton has been the catalyst for the Bombers, as he’s been at the forefront of both their wins, in games one and five. His 112 pitches across six-innings were the headline of the game, as he mowed down nine batters, allowing just four hits and one run. Unfortunately, he cannot pitch every game.
To win game six, the Yankees have to utilize their bullpen strategically. Green needs to take them into the third inning without giving up any significant damage. It’s also possible they elect to star J.A. Happ, despite his struggles this season. If he can step up to the plate and offer three good innings before handing the ball over to Green, that would be more than acceptable.
Here’s the predicted pitching order for the New York Yankees on Saturday:
1.) J.A. Happ
2.) Chad Green
3.) Zack Britton
4.) Tommy Kahnle
5.) Adam Ottavino
6.) Aroldis Chapman
This order will give them an experienced starter to open the game, a trusted relief pitcher to carry them into the latter portion of the contest, and then their primary closers to finish off the Astros. Now, it all comes down to Gary Sanchez catching the ball and not letting pitches fly by him at an astronomical rate. Sooner rather than later, manager Aaron Boone will need to plug LeMahieu in at catcher.