clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Starting Nine: ALCS Advantages

New, 129 comments

TCB Staff highlights each team’s advantages ahead of the ALCS

MLB: New York Yankees at Houston Astros Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Astros will face the New York Yankees in their first ALCS appearance in franchise history. Our staff breaks down the advantages of these two teams as they fight for the American League pennant.

What is the biggest advantage the Astros have over the Yankees, and the biggest advantage the Yankees have over the Astros?

Jason Marbach

The biggest advantage the Astros have over the Yankees is that they’re better, deeper, more talented, and run by smarter people.

The biggest advantage the Yankees have over the Astros is that they just beat a team that’s even better than the Astros, and did it with their backs against the wall basically the whole time.

Brian Stevenson

The Yankees' biggest advantage is clear; they have three or four closers in their bullpen. It's frightening. It might be better than the storied Wagner/Lidge/Dotel trio that Houston sported over a decade ago. Not that this team isn't capable of coming back against good relievers (KimbreLOL), but they'd better do all they can to strike those Yankee starters early.

Houston's biggest advantage is their lineup. Notice I didn't say their offense; the Yankees were second in MLB in wRC+ behind only the Astros, and they actually ended up overtaking them in total home runs by the end. But so much of the Yankees' offense is Aaron Judge. Houston has nine hitters (minimum 300 PA) with a wRC+ of 100 or better, and six of those nine are 120 or better. New York has three hitters that are 120 or better. Judge literally hit about 20% of the team's entire home runs. In other words, lineup depth is the advantage.

As a side note, with Verlander and Keuchel both healthy and dealing, you have to give Houston the advantage in rotation as well. Houston is clearly the better team, but I think the gap is much, much smaller than a lot of people realize.

MLB: ALDS-Cleveland Indians at New York Yankees
The Yankees bullpen, led by flame-thrower Aroldis Chapman, is one of their biggest advantages.
Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

stephon146

I'm so confident that I think the Astros take it in 5 games. The Astros will tag Yankees starters with hit after hit like the Twins did in the wild card game. The Yankees will have to pull their starters early. Keuchel will give up a solo shot to Judge in the first game, but it won't matter because the Astros will score 8 at home again.

The Yankees biggest advantage is their closers. Their problem though is they strike out alot.

The Astros advantage is that they've scored more runs than any other team during the regular season. Also Keuchel dominates the Yankees. Remember 2015? How about opening day 2016? I have complete confidence in this Astros team.

I was scared of the Indians. I'm not scared of the Yankees. The Yankees bullpen is hittable. Re-watch game two against the Indians. Worried about Judge? Watch game one against the Indians.

clack

Astros advantage: Starting pitching; team defense; bench.

Yankees advantage: bullpen.

Offenses are almost a draw, but slight advantage to Astros.

I like the match up of the Yankees hard throwing fastball pitchers against the Astros' fastball-loving offense. Opponents know that the Astros destroy fastballs. It's strength vs. strength. The Astros got the better of this match up during the regular season.

I am skeptical of the notion of "momentum." But if momentum is a thing in the playoffs, the Yankees have the advantage there. But it's not like the Astros are far behind in the category, given the good series and come from behind Game 4 in the ALDS.

My prediction: the Yankees will give the Astros a run for their money, but the Astros will win in the end.

Brian Stevenson

I'll tack this on about momentum; the Indians went 33-4 over their final 37 games. If anyone had the momentum, it was them. But Kluber got bashed a couple times and the Yankee bullpen did their thing, and here we are, with a team that had a 108-54 Pythagorean record getting eliminated in the first round by a wild card team.

MLB: ALDS-Boston Red Sox at Houston Astros
The Astros lineup is deep with some very special talents like Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa at the heart of it.
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

leistomania409

I'll counter the idea that the Yankees and Astros are even in offense - I think offense is a significant advantage for Houston. This entire lineup has had really good success against New York's starting pitchers - this is a team that just beat Chris Sale after he hadn't pitched against the Astros since July 2016. I think the Astros hitters have plenty of advantages over New York's four starters based on their past success.

Houston also kills fastballs, as clack noted earlier. Point Astros.

New York's offense is pretty three true outcomes - high strikeouts, low contact, lot of walks. Their MVP candidate is 3 for 24 in the posteason with 16 strikeouts. I don't know if that's just a comically bad, random slump or if Cleveland's pitchers just attacked and executed their gameplan to Judge perfectly, but I'll give credit to Cleveland's pitchers.

New York's big advantage is the bullpen. They got consecutive strong starts from Sabathia, Tanaka and Severino (5.2, 7.0, 7.0 innings respectively) in Games 2 3 and 4 which really set their bullpen up well in Game 5. If they can get strong starts out of their starters, this series probably goes seven games with how fresh and elite their bullpen will be without being overworked.

I don't buy the momentum thing here at all. Momentum *should* have carried Cleveland to a longer postseason run than this - didn't happen. Astros in 5. I'll counter the idea that the Yankees and Astros are even in offense - I think offense is a significant advantage for Houston. This entire lineup has had really good success against New York's starting pitchers - this is a team that just beat Chris Sale after he hadn't pitched against the Astros since July 2016. I think the Astros hitters have plenty of advantages over New York's four starters based on their past success.

Houston also kills fastballs, as clack noted earlier. Point Astros.

New York's offense is pretty three true outcomes - high strikeouts, low contact, lot of walks. Their MVP candidate is 3 for 24 in the posteason with 16 strikeouts. I don't know if that's just a comically bad, random slump or if Cleveland's pitchers just attacked and executed their gameplan to Judge perfectly, but I'll give credit to Cleveland's pitchers.

New York's big advantage is the bullpen. They got consecutive strong starts from Sabathia, Tanaka and Severino (5.2, 7.0, 7.0 innings respectively) in Games 2 3 and 4 which really set their bullpen up well in Game 5. If they can get strong starts out of their starters, this series probably goes seven games with how fresh and elite their bullpen will be without being overworked.

I don't buy the momentum thing here at all. Momentum *should* have carried Cleveland to a longer postseason run than this - didn't happen. Astros in 5.