ALCS Cheat Sheet
October 12, 2017
By Kevin Rogers
2017 Head-to-Head Matchups (Houston 5-2, Under 5-2)
Houston vs. New York (Yankee Stadium)
May 11 - Astros 3 Yankees 2 (Under 7.5)
May 12 - Astros 5 Yankees 1 (Under 8)
May 14 - Yankees 11 Astros 6 (Over 9)
May 14 - Astros 10 Yankees 7 (Over 8.5)
New York vs. Houston (Minute Maid Park)
June 30 - Yankees 13 Astros 4 (Over 8)
July 1 - Astros 7 Yankees 6 (Over 9)
July 2 - Astros 8 Yankees 1 (Over 8.5)
The Indians and Astros were on a collision course to meet in the American League Championship Series following 100-win seasons. Houston finished off Boston in four games of the Divisional Series, while Cleveland led New York, 2-0 with three shots to eliminate the Yankees. However, the Indians fell apart by losing twice in the Bronx and then dropping Game 5 at home as a nearly -200 favorite as Cleveland won’t defend its American League pennant.
The Yankees (91-71) rallied from a 3-0 deficit in the Wild Card round to knock out the Twins, 8-4, but lost the first two games of the ALDS to Cleveland. New York blew a five-run advantage in a 13-inning setback in Game 2, as it seemed like the season was over for Joe Girardi and the Yankees. But, the Bronx Bombers received a terrific pitching performance from Masahiro Tanaka in a Game 3 shutout, while the Yankees pulled away from the Indians in Game 4 to force the decisive Game 5 at Progressive Field.
Shortshop Didi Gregorious belted a pair of home runs off Indians’ ace Corey Kluber to propel the Yankees to a 3-0 lead in Game 5 before Cleveland trimmed the deficit to 3-2. Brett Gardner’s base hit in the ninth inning brought home a pair of runs to send Cleveland to 0-5 in its past five postseason close-out games. The Yankees improved to 1-2 as an underdog in the playoffs as New York cashed as +170 ‘dogs, while advancing to their first ALCS since 2012.
The Astros (101-61) didn’t want to fall in the same trap as the Indians after grabbing a 2-0 advantage in their series against the Red Sox. Houston dominated Boston twice by identical 8-2 scores at Minute Maid Park before getting tripped up in a 10-3 setback to the Red Sox at Fenway Park in Game 3. Boston was ready to force a Game 5 back in Houston as the Sox led the Astros, 3-2 in the eighth inning of Game 4 before Alex Bregman tied the game with a homer, followed by a Josh Reddick RBI single. Houston finished the job, 5-4 to advance to the ALCS for the first time since joining the American League and the first LCS appearance since 2005.
The starting pitching advantage lies with the Astros, who showcase a pair of Cy Young winners in the first two games. Dallas Keuchel (14-5, 2.90 ERA) shut down the Red Sox in Game 2 of the ALDS, 8-2 as a -175 home favorite by tossing 5.2 innings of three-hit ball, while allowing one earned run. The Astros posted a 7-5 record in Keuchel’s 12 starts at Minute Maid Park, although the southpaw put together a solid 2.21 home ERA.
Keuchel beat the Yankees as a short road underdog in May by yielding one unearned run in six innings of work as the Astros picked up a 3-2 victory. The left-hander has dominated the Yankees over the years by going 5-1 since 2015, including a 3-0 triumph in the Wild Card game in New York in 2015 by tossing six scoreless innings. Keuchel is undefeated in three postseason starts, which includes a 2-0 record at Minute Maid Park.
Justin Verlander (15-8, 3.36 ERA) takes the mound in Game 2 as picked up a pair of wins against the Red Sox in the ALDS. Verlander is unbeaten in six starts since getting traded from Detroit in late August, as the right-hander allowed two earned runs in six innings of Game 1 against Boston, while pitching out of the bullpen for the first time in his career in the Game 4 clincher by throwing 2.2 innings of relief. Verlander didn’t face the Yankees this season, but picked up a 6-1 victory at Yankee Stadium last season as a +120 underdog as he yielded one earned run in 6.2 innings.
Tanaka (13-12, 4.74 ERA) is coming off his two best starts of the season by striking out a combined 22 batters and walking only one in 14 scoreless innings against the Blue Jays and Indians. On the flip side, Tanaka’s worst start of the season came against Houston in mid-May as the Astros tagged him for eight earned runs and four homers in 1.2 innings of a 10-7 defeat. Girardi decided to give Tanaka the ball in Game 1 opposite Keuchel, reminiscent of their Wild Card matchup two years ago.
Luis Severino (14-6, 2.98 ERA) rebounded from a poor performance in the Wild Card round against Minnesota by striking out nine and scattering four hits and three earned runs in a 7-3 triumph over Cleveland in Game 4 of the ALDS. The Yankees are 7-0 in Severino’s last seven starts, but the right-hander struggled in two outings against Houston this season. Severino survived only eight innings in two starts, while giving up nine earned runs, but the Yankees rallied for an 11-6 victory in New York back in May in one of those outings.
The Yankees acquired Sonny Gray (10-12, 3.54 ERA) at the trade deadline from Oakland, but things haven’t worked out well for the right-hander. Gray owns a dreadful 4-9 record in 13 starts with the Bronx Bombers, including a 2-5 mark on the highway. In his only start against Cleveland in the ALDS, Gray lasted 3.1 innings in the series opener and gave up three hits and three earned runs in a 4-0 defeat. In the five road losses with the Yankees, New York’s offense hasn’t helped out Gray by scoring one run or fewer in each defeat. It will be tough sledding for Gray in the series opener, as he allowed five earned runs in five innings in an 8-4 loss to Houston as a member of the Athletics back in June.
The first two meetings this season finished UNDER the total, but the final five matchups sailed OVER the total, as the winning team scored at least seven runs each time. The home team in the LCS has won each of the past four series openers since 2015, while underdogs went 6-0 from 2012-14 in Game 1’s of the LCS.
You can reach Kevin Rogers via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
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