Posted on October 18, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine
For the New York Yankees, the rain didn’t last long enough. After the ALCS was delayed by a day because of rain, the Bronx Bombers fell flat in Thursday’s Game 4, losing to the Houston Astros 8-3. Since taking Game 1 7-0, the Yankees have lost three in a row to the Astros, getting out-scored 15-6. Now the Yankees have their backs up against the wall in a must-win Game 5 at Yankee Stadium Friday night.
Nothing Going Right
An entire season is disintegrating for the Yankees right before their eyes. Their bats have gone suddenly cold the last few games against Houston’s stellar pitching. They have three home runs in the last three games but haven’t come up with timely hits when they’ve had runners on base. On top of that, New York’s defense is starting to betray them. The Yankees committed four fielding errors in Game 4, all by the right side of the infield, leading to three unearned runs. They don’t look like a team that won 103 games during the regular season, and that obviously has to change quickly with the Astros just one win away from a return to the World Series.
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The Yankees will go back to James Paxton to help save them in Game 5 and extend the series. Aaron Boone pulled the lefty with one out in the third inning of his Game 2 start against the Astros. He also had an uneven outing against the Twins during the ALDS, giving up two home runs and failing to get out of the fifth inning. The leash figures to be just as short in Game 5 if Paxton doesn’t get off to a good start. But the Yankees would love to get some length out of their starter for the first time this series.
Paxton will also have the challenge of trying to match Justin Verlander, who will start for the Astros. Verlander is putting together another impressive postseason. In Game 2, he gave Houston 6.2 innings, allowing two runs on five hits while striking out seven. When he visited Yankee Stadium in June, the results were similar, striking out nine over seven innings while allowing three runs on four hits. The Astros would be more than happy with a similar outing on Friday.
The two X-factors for the Yankees in Game 5 are D.J. LeMahieu and Didi Gregorius. Both began the series 5 for 15 in their career against Verlander while the rest of the Yankees have dreadful numbers against the Houston ace. If the Yankees are going to do some damage against Verlander, those two will probably have to be in the middle of it. LeMahieu has been one of the few bright spots for the Yankees in this series. Gregorius, on the other hand, is just 2 for 16 in the ALCS but needs to become a catalyst against Verlander and the Astros in Game 5.
This looks like the end of the line for the Yankees. While it’s hard to imagine the Yankees losing three in a row at home, especially after dominating Game 1 on the road. But it might be harder to imagine Verlander having a poor outing after the way he’s pitched in the postseason. Even when he had a rough start against the Rays, he eventually settled down and kept Houston in the game. Behind Verlander, the Astros are poised to clinch their spot in the World Series on Friday night. Houston wins 7-2.
Note: This prediction is the opinion of the author and not necessarily the prediction of Jon Price or Sports Information Traders.