7:05 PM EST – Line: Yankees -150, Over/Under: 10
A clash of Division Leaders highlights the night in Baseball, as the Houston Astros travel to the city that never sleeps to face the New York Yankees, in the first entry of a Four-Game Series from Yankee Stadium in New York, New York. These teams met in a thrilling seven-game American League Championship Series two years ago, with the former narrowly edging the latter en route to advancing to capturing their first World Series Championship in Franchise History. Despite owning a one-game lead over their opponent tonight in the overall Standings, the Astros (48-27, 1st in AL West) enter this four-game set with the Yankees in something of a crisis, dropping four consecutive contests, including a three-game sweep at the hands of the Cincinnati Reds. It was altogether an extremely frustrating affair for A.J. Hinch and his charges, who lost each outing by a single run, outscored over the three tilts 10-7, and this was on the heels of getting blasted 12-0 in the previous series’ Finale against the Toronto Blue Jays. Injuries have certainly played a role in their recent struggles, particularly when it comes to scoring Runs, but then again when you are missing the likes of Jose Altuve (39 G, .243 BA, 35 H, 21 R, 6 2B, 9 HR, 21 RBI, 18 BB, 25 K), Carlos Correa (50 G, .295 BA, 56 H, 26 R, 13 2B, 11 HR, 35 RBI, 20 BB, 51 K), and George Springer (48 G, 57 H, 41 R, 9 2B, 17 HR, 43 RBI, 25 BB, 45 K), you’re going to have to get creative in order to produce. Altuve, the 2017 MVP and for many the heart and soul of the team, finally returned from a lengthy Hamstring Strain that cost him well over a month of action, taking the field in Wednesday’s 2-3 defeat, in which the Venezuelan International went 0-for-4, grounding out on all four appearances at the Plate. As for Correa (Ribs) and Springer (Hamstring), both players are expected to be shelved a little longer, with a target date set for the end of June. In their absence, Alex Bregman (72 G, 68 H, 48 R, 10 2B, 20 HR, 50 RBI, 55 BB, 42 K) has by and large carried the Offense, maturing into a much more powerful threat from the Plate; a year after leading the Majors with Fifty-One Doubles, the young Third Baseman has already tagged Twenty Home Runs, putting him on pace to shatter his career-high of Thirty-One set in 2018. Taking the mound tonight for the Astros will be Framber Valdez (3-2, 2.77 ERA, 16 G, 39.0 IP, 31 H, 12 ER, 2 HR, 15 BB, 36 K, 1.179 WHIP) whom Hinch hopes can become a more consistent member of the Rotation. With Collin McHugh (3-4, 6.04 ERA, 10 G, 44.2 IP, 39 H, 30 ER, 9 HR, 16 BB, 48 K, 1.231 WHIP) spending what is expected to be a brief stay on the disabled List due to discomfort in his Right Elbow, Houston needs some reinforcements among the Starters, with the young Dominican Republic International getting his shot. This will be the Lefthander’s third consecutive Start, with the hopes of authoring a third straight quality outing. In his last two Starts, Valdez has relinquished Three earned Runs on Nine Hits, fanning Fifteen Batters and walking just Two, getting the victory in 7-2 romp over the Toronto Blue Jays after a No-Decision in a 1-4 Loss against the Baltimore Orioles. Unless they meet up in the Playoffs, this Series will mark the final meeting between these teams in 2019, with the Astros having taken the first Series back in Houston, sweeping the Yankees, and outscoring them 18-12.
Meanwhile, strengthening their slim lead over the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League East via a recent three-game sweep of their division rivals, the Yankees (46-27, 1st in AL East) have been a rather remarkable story in 2019 when you consider the litany of injuries that they’ve managed to sustain. For most clubs, this would be a bonafide crisis, but New York has thrived nonetheless, leaving many to wonder how potent they’ll be if they ever do manage to return to full strength. Let’s take a moment to run down the list of names that are currently occupying a spot in the Disabled List shall we? First and foremost, prolific sluggers such as Aaron Judge (.288 BA, 21 H, 13 R, 2 2B, 5 HR, 11 RBI, 14 BB, 26 K) and Giancarlo Stanton (.250 BA, 2 H, 1 R, 7 BB, 4 K) have missed a wealth of action with respective ailments, while the likes of Didi Gregorious (.385 BA, 10 H, 4 R 1 2B, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 BB, 5 K) and Luis Severino have also been out of action for quite a while. Judge and Stanton alone accounted for a combined Sixty-Five Home Runs alone in 2018. Speaking of Stanton, the 2017 National League Most Valuable Player returned from injury in the previous Series against the Rays after missing all but three games thus far due to a shoulder injury; in Tuesday’s 6-3 victory, he went 0-for-4 with a pair of Strikeouts, as he has a great deal of rust to work off in the coming weeks Now in most cases, if you were to remove that kind of power from a Lineup, most teams would run the risk of becoming toothless, but not Aaron Boone’s charges, who have nonetheless slugged their way to 111 Homers, ranking Fourth Overall in the American League. Five different players have pelted Eleven or more Home Runs, led by Gary Sanchez (53 G, 52 H, 32 R, 5 2B, 20 HR, 45 RBI, 19 BB, 58 K), the All-Star Catcher who has attracted serious MVP attention thus far. And if that wasn’t enough, the rich continue to get richer, as New York acquired Edwin Encarnacion (67 G, 59 H, 49 R, 7 2B, 22 HR, 50 RBI, 41 BB, 56 K) in a deal with the Seattle Mariners, adding the Major League Leader in Home Runs to their already prolific Order. Encarnacion saw his first action with the Yankees in Monday’s 3-0 victory over the Rays, though he failed to impress upon his debut, going 0-for-4 with a Strikeout. With the aforementioned Judge set to return by the end of the week, it should be interesting to see how Boone manages this embarrassment of riches at the Plate. From the mound, the Yankees have been solid if unspectacular, with a Starting Rotation that has benefitted greatly from a wealth of Run Support, coupled with one of the better Bullpens in the Majors. Of course, when you have a Closer like Aroldis Chapman (1-1, 1.30 ERA, 29 G, 19 SV, 27.2 IP, 17 H, 4 ER, 1 HR, 8 BB, 39 K, 0.904 WHIP) buoyed by fellow Relievers such as Adam Ottavino (2-2, 1.69 ERA, 32 G, 32.0 IP, 19 H, 6 ER, 4 HR, 21 BB, 42 K, 1.250 WHIP ) and Zach Britton (2-1, 2.67 ERA, 31 G, 2 SV, 30.1 IP, 22 H, 9 ER, 2 HR, 13 BB, 25 K, 1.154 WHIP), you’re not requiring your Starters to venture to far into an affair. Expected to get the nod to Start tonight is Chad Green (1-2, 7.54 ERA, 22 G, 22.2 IP, 32 H, 19 ER, 6 HR, 6 BB, 30 K, 1.676 WHIP), who despite featuring in Twenty-Two Games thus far, has only made Five Starts, as Boone is calling upon the Reliever due to Domingo German (9-2, 3.86 ERA, 12 GS, 70.0 IP, 59 H, 30 ER, 12 HR, 19 BB, 77 K, 1.114 WHIP) continuing to languish on the Disabled List with a Left Hip Flexor. The 28-Year Old Righthander has yet last longer than Two Innings in any appearance thus far, struggling with his control, allowing an average 12.7 Hits per Nine Innings despite also fanning his fair share of opposing Batters, striking out 11.9 per Nine Innings as well. When we last saw him, Green was pulled after the First Two Innings of an eventual 8-4 victory at the Chicago White Sox. Despite not factoring into the decision, he did strike out six with no Walks and only One Hit. Needless to say, given the aforementioned arms in the Bullpen, don’t expect this guy to last very long.