By Collin Davern
The New York Yankees and Houston Astros have formed a new rivalry that has gradually heated up in the past few seasons.
The teams met in the 2015 American League Wild Card Game at Yankee Stadium, which the Astros won 3-0. In 2017, they met once more in the ALCS and Houston claimed the win in seven games.
The Yankees have rapidly rebuilt their team in a much shorter time span than anyone expected. In 2016, they sold off big pieces for high-level prospects but now they are right back in the thick of things.
Yet again, New York and Houston are battling it out in the final week of the 2019 regular season for the top seed in the American League for the playoffs.
Both teams have mostly the same core, but the Astros have since acquired elite players in Zack Greinke, Gerrit Cole and Michael Brantley. Significant newcomers to the Bronx since 2017 include infielder DJ LeMahieu, outfielder Giancarlo Stanton and pitchers J.A. Happ and James Paxton.
The Yankees have dealt with an unthinkable amount of injuries in 2019, yet they are in the heat of the battle for the best record in baseball. A World Series appearance would obliterate all the common complaints about the franchise only winning due to hogging all the stars in free-agency, and they have the power to do it.
Luis Severino has been a Cy Young Award candidate for the past few seasons, but injuries sidelined him for nearly all of his 2019 season until his late September return. In Severino’s first few starts, he’s gotten his feet wet again and has had good performances despite his temporary innings limit. Once he gets fully warmed up, the Yankees will have a huge boost heading into the playoffs knowing what they accomplished with him out for nearly the entire year. The team’s iffy pitching stats should have an asterisk next to them because to Severino’s absence.
The bats need no introduction. They’ve continued to annihilate the baseball every day and lead the league in runs scored. New York’s team stats for pitching have been middle of the pack at worst, and can quiet bats at ease.
The ALCS will feature the Astros and Yankees, I agree with Anthony on that. However, the matchup to watch is the Yankees power hitters versus the Astros’ strong starting pitching. Aaron Judge and the Bronx Bombers will be able to get revenge for 2017 via the strength they’ve gained through the trials and tribulations of the 162 game season.
By Anthony Cullotta
My pick to win the AL Pennant is the Houston Astros.
I expect the Astros to get back to the World Series after losing to the eventual champion Boston Red Sox in the ALCS last season.
The Astros have won over 100 games again and their roster has plenty of postseason experience. The prior experience is going to help because the Astros are comfortbale with the playoff intensity and will not crumble when the going gets tough.
Houston also has a roster built for deep postseason runs.
When it comes to the postseason, pitching and timely hitting are key. It is also much harder to win games by only hitting home runs.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Astros have quality fielders around the diamond and above average outfielders that are very sure-handed.
The Astros have a great pitching staff led by 2011 Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander who continues to show no signs of slowing down. They were able to acquire another former Cy Young Award winner in Zach Greinke at the trade deadline. The Astros also have a serviceable Wade Miley slated for their playoff rotation. It is going to be very hard for the opposition to string together a lot of hits and put runs on the board against those quality arms.
When it comes to the offense, the Astros have plenty of quality hitters that can spray the ball all over the field and a deep lineup that can string hits together.
Names like Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa, Michael Brantley, George Springer and several more give reason to believe that the Astros are going to be able to put enough runs on the board while the pitching staff dominates on the mound.
Collin thinks the Yankees’ luck will continue with their next man up mentality. With injuries abound, the Bronx Bombers won’t be able to extend their season through the cold Northeast fall.
The combination of a ultra-solid pitching staff, a solid consistent lineup and past playoff experience is a great recipe for the Astros to win the AL Pennant this October and return to the World Series.