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Series Preview: Houston Astros vs. New York Yankees, July 25-27, 2016

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It's the first episode of the Bregman show.

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Houston Astros (54-44) vs. New York Yankees (50-48), July 25-27, 2016

The times are a changin'. The Astros have called up another uber prospect in Alex Bregman and the New York Yankees appeared to have pulled the ripcord on the season with a trade of Aldous Chapman to the Chicago Cubs. These teams are heading in different directions after their meeting in the 2015 American League Wild Card Game.

The Astros are just 2.5 games behind the Rangers for the A.L. West lead and are one of baseball hottest teams at the moment. The Yankees are only two games over .500 and 7.5 games back of the Orioles for the AL East lead.

Starting pitching

Monday: LHP Dallas Keuchel (6-9, 4.70 ERA, 1.36 WHIP) vs. RHP Michael Pineda (4-9, 5.25 ERA, 1.35 WHIP)
Tuesday: RHP Doug Fister (10-6, 3.42 ERA, 1.23 WHIP) vs. LHP CC Sabathia (5-8, 4.04 ERA, 1.38 WHP)
Wednesday: RHP Lance McCullers (5-4, 3.33 ERA, 1.56 WHIP) vs. RHP Masahiro Tanaka (7-2, 3.00 ERA, 1.09 WHIP)

The 2015 AL Wild Card game starter, Dallas Keuchel, makes the Monday start for the Astros. Keuchel hasn't had a great start to the 2016 season but he appears to have found his groove. He is 1-0 with a 2.33 ERA in three July starts. He comes into Monday's game, allowing tow runs on five hits over 6 1/3 innings against the A's in his last start.

Keuchel got the opening day start against the Yankees on April 5, he allowed two runs on three hits over seven innings in that game.

Another trade chip for the Yankees, Michael Pineda, gets the start in game one for New York. After strong July (1-1, 2.75 ERA in six starts), Pineda struggled with back-to-back starts -- allowing 10 runs over 11 innings against the White Sox and Red Sox. He rebounded in his last start, pitching six scoreless innings against the Orioles on July 20 while striking out eight.

Pineda allowed six runs on eight hits over five innings in his one start against the Astros on April 6.

Doug Fister keeps chugging along as one the Astros best starting pitchers in 2016. He is 2-2 with a 3.65 ERA in four starts in July. Fister pitched seven scoreless innings against the A's on July 20.

Fister goes against CC Sabathia in game two. Sabathia made the bloopers reels in his last start after falling off the mound. He has fallen off the mound in his game as well, he is 0-3 with a 6.85 ERA in his last four starts.

Lance McCullers will take the ball in game three against the Yankees. McCullers has found another gear over his last handful of starts, he is 2-2 with a 2.22 ERA in four July starts.

One time international free agent target for the Astros, Masahiro Tanaka has been the Yankees' anchor on the pitching staff in 2016. He has been lights out in July with a 2-0 record and a 1.48 ERA in four July starts. He allowed two runs on four hits over 5 2/3 innings on Opening Day (April 5) against the Astros.

Lineup

Jose Altuve is on an MVP pace this season. That hasn't changed since coming back from the All-Star break. He is batting .560 (14x25) with five runs scored, a double, a triple, two home runs, and six RBIs in the team's last six games. Carlos Correa isn't far behind  batting .429 (9x21) with four doubles, a home run, and seven RBIs. Evan Gattis has been hitting the cover off the ball as well, he is batting .357 (5x14) with three home runs and five RBIs.

Colby Rasmus has struggled mightily, going 0-for-19 over the team's last five games. Alex Bregman is inserted in the lineup at third base and batting in the No. 6 hole.

Former Astro Carlos Beltran has been leading the Yankees on offense, he is batting .417 (10x24) with two home runs and four RBIs in the team's last seven games. Former Astros farmhand Aldous Chapman is batting .333 (3x9) in his last seven games. Sterlin Castro has seven RBIs in his last 25 at-bats.

Alex Rodriguez is 1-for-13 in his last four games.

Prediction

Astros take two-of-three but drop the game to Tanaka.

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