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2021 Series Preview: Houston Astros @ New York Yankees

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The Astros (15-13, 2nd in AL West) head to the Bronx for a quiet and uneventful series with the Yankees (14-14, t-3rd in AL East)

League Championship Series - Houston Astros v New York Yankees - Game Five Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

The Narrative

The Yankees got off to an absolutely putrid start this season after losing 10 of their first 15 games, all of which came against divisional opponents. Since then they have managed to claw their way back to a .500 record, which they did against teams that they were supposed to beat.

The Yankees have won or split their last 4 series, including a three game sweep against the Tigers this past weekend. The offense has really turned it on during that time and has brought home 35 runs in just their past 7 games. This power surge comes just in time for the Yanks, as they are set to face some good pitching over the course of this week.

Aaron Judge has been an anchor in an offense that has been seeing quite a bit of underperforming pieces. Though the offense has started to heat up as of late, overall the stats are middling at best and hasn’t inspired much confidence. Still, they are tied for 8th in league in home runs (37), so there is power lurking for Yankees bats.

This series represents what could be an early turning point for both teams. Both Houston and New York have gotten off to a less than stellar start this season and could really use this series win to keep them near the first place teams in their divisions. It’s going to be a good series with two October-ready teams duking it out.

...but let’s be clear that none of that is the real narrative heading into this series.

The Astros will be serenaded by a chorus of boos while national announcers re-hash the sign stealing scandal over and over across the next 3 games. We’ll hear about how Yankees were cheated out of a title that they were definitely going to win in 2017, even though they couldn’t figure out how to score runs at MMP. There won’t be any serious discussion about whether or not they actually could of won mind you, just blind acceptance that it was inevitable if not for trash cans.

Meanwhile, Yankees fans will act like unrepentant assholes in the stands, pouring beer and concessions on any Astros fans and picking fights while the national media shrugs its shoulders and “aw shucks” it away. Expect several game stoppages as they try to one up the buffoons from the Angels’ stadium earlier this season. I mean, it’s not like Yankees fans are ever expected to act like respectable human beings when they’re at games and now they’ll get an even bigger pass because it’s the Astros.

Ahem... anyways, back to actual baseball.

Quick Notes

Patience is a Virtue, Sloth a Sin: Though the rest of their stats leave something to be desired, the Yankees are currently second in the league in walks at 120. But there’s not much action once they get on base, with only 5 stolen bases in 6 attempts so far this year.

Sans 3: The Yankees are the only MLB team without a triple this season.

Best Offensive Player: Aaron Judge (.281/.385/.562) has the best stats of the Yankees’ offense at the moment, and is coming into this game following a very hot week at the plate. All three of his slash stats are best on the team and he currently has the most walks (15), RBI (18), and home runs (7).

Crusher: Giancarlo Stanton (.271.320.490) is finally looking healthy in a Yankees uniform and has been absolutely tattooing the ball this season. Stanton has the hardest hit ball in 2021, a 120.1 mph scorcher that he slapped for a single against Cleveland last week.

Oh Gary: Gary Sanchez (.180/.324/.295) continues to spiral as the Yankees’ catcher after an offseason filled with speculation that he might be a trade candidate before too long. Meanwhile, Kyle Higashioka (.265/.375/.706) has been one of the Yankees’ best hitters in limited work this season, and seems to have taken over the primary catcher position.

Closer: Aroldis Chapman (LHP, 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 24 K’s) has been on another level so far, locking down all 6 save opportunities he’s had in 10 IP. Chapman has yet to surrender a run this season and has only allowed 2 hits while striking out 24 and walking just 3. If the Yankees can get the ball to Chapman with a lead in the 9th, he will almost definitely slam the door.

Shutdown Pen: The Yankees bullpen has been, for the most part, absolutely phenomenal. So far this year New York’s relievers lead the league in ERA (2.39), WHIP (0.95), and BAA (.180), They are also third in the league for strikeouts (132), have only walked 35 batters in 109.1 IP, and have only surrendered 9 home runs so far this season. Pretty impressive.

Starters

Domingo German (RHP, 2-2, 4.05 ERA, 19 K’s) is coming off of his best performance of the season after firing off 7 shutout innings against the Orioles. He’s been able to cut his ERA in half after a couple of weak starts to begin the season and is hoping to keep the good times rolling in a rotation that desperately needs a solid #2 starter.

Jordan Montgomery (LHP, 1-1, 4.39 ERA, 24 K’s) comes into this game after a stretch of so-so performances. He did well enough his last time out by holding the Orioles to 2 runs in just five innings, but left after just 74 pitches. This was down from 89 in his previous start so I’m not sure why he got the hook so early.

Gerrit Cole (RHP, 4-1, 1.43 ERA, 62 K’s) has looked right at home in the Bronx this season, snagging pitcher of the month honors for April. His 62 strikeouts are the second most for any Yankees pitcher across a month since 1978. If I were the Astros I would hope to already have a series win before we get to Game 3.

For Your Viewing and Listening Pleasure

Game 1: Tuesday, May 4th @ 6:05 pm CDT
Listen: Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KLAT 1010 / Yankees - WFAN 660/101.9 FM, WADO 1280
Watch: Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW / Yankees - YES / ESPN

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Game 2: Wednesday, May 5th @ 6:05 pm CDT
Listen: Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KLAT 1010 / Yankees - WFAN 660/101.9 FM, WADO 1280
Watch: Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW / Yankees - YES

Game 3: Thursday, May 6th @ 12:05 pm CDT
Listen: Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KLAT 1010 / Yankees - WFAN 660/101.9 FM, WADO 1280
Watch: Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW / Yankees - YES / MLB Network (out-of-market only)

Poll

Who wins this series?

This poll is closed

  • 18%
    Astros Sweep 3-0
    (30 votes)
  • 48%
    Astros Win 2-1
    (78 votes)
  • 23%
    Yankees Win 2-1
    (38 votes)
  • 8%
    Yankees Sweep 3-0
    (14 votes)
160 votes total Vote Now