The New York Yankees are gearing up to face off against the Houston Astros on Wednesday night in Game 1 of the ALCS. Having just squeaked by the Cleveland Guardians in the ALDS, the Yankees will have a quick turnaround, which will force them to utilize Jameson Taillon as their starting pitcher.
Taillon was projected to make the start in Game 5 against Cleveland, but after Monday night’s contest was postponed, Nestor Cortés was able to generate enough rest to toss just over 60 pitches.
While this puts the Bombers in a disadvantageous spot, they have an offense capable of providing plenty of run support.
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Yankees V Astros pitching matchup:
Astros ace Justin Verlander has made one appearance this postseason against the Seattle Mariners, giving up 10 hits and six earned runs over 4.0 innings. He was awful, but this was an anomaly for Verlander, who had another unbelievable regular season.
He posted a 1.75 ERA, 9.51 strikeouts per nine, and an 80.5% left on-base rate across 175 innings. He likely won’t replicate his bad outing again, so the Yankees will need to be on top of their game.
Verlander has seen the return of his elite stuff, generating a .194 batting average against his 4-seam fastball, which he throws at 50.4% of the time. His slider is producing a .188 average against, and his curveball .158 average against. The Yankees are likely kicking themselves for not offering him a bit more money in free agency, electing to stay with Houston on a two-year, $50 million deal. The Yanks are paying Josh Donaldson that same amount, go figure.
Nonetheless, the Yankees have seen Verlander plenty of times in the past, so they know what to expect, but that doesn’t mean they will have a better chance of taking advantage.
Ideally, the Bombers would have Gerrit Cole on the mound in Game 1, but Jameson Taillon will have to suffice for now. Taillon featured a 3.91 ERA with 7.66 strikeouts per nine across 177.1 innings during the regular season.
Taillon‘s goal is to produce weak contact, but he can get in trouble with that mentality on occasion. He gave up 1.32 home runs per nine with a 12.4% HR/FB ratio this year. With a team as dangerous as Houston, Jameson needs to be at the top of his game, otherwise, things could get ugly quickly. Over one start against Houston this season, he gave up 10 hits and six earned runs, including two homers over 5.2 innings.
This certainly isn’t an ideal situation, but the Yankees were backed into a corner in the ALDS.
Given the Astros’ extreme pitching advantage in Game 1, it is hard to project the Yankees winning this one.
The Astros generally have the Yankees’ number in the postseason, so the Yankees’ offense may need to carry the load in this one against all odds. Over the last two games, they scored just five runs combined, indicating their offense isn’t exactly on a hot streak. However, given their success against Taillon, that could change rather quickly.
Score prediction: Astros 6 – Yankees 3