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2021 Series Preview: New York Yankees @ Houston Astros

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The Astros (54-34, 1st in AL West) close out the first half of the season with a weekend series against the Yankees (44-42, 4th in AL East)

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

Quick Notes

The Yankees arrive in Houston in a place that almost no one expected them to be in. Favorites to win or at least compete for the AL East this season, the Yankees have instead floundered for much of the season and now find themselves staring up at three other teams in the division. They are currently 9 games back in the division and 4.5 back from the 2nd Wild Card spot.

That’s not to say that their season is over. We’ve seen enough late surges and collapses to know that almost nothing is decided at this point, but it’s still a pretty good size hole they find themselves in. The team has the tools to dig their way out of it, certainly, but they’re going to need to figure it out quickly as the trade deadline starts to loom and decisions need to be made.

Last 10 Games: 4-6 Record, 1 Series Won, 2 Series Lost, -6 Run Differential (53 scored, 59 allowed)

W/L Splits: 23-22 at home, 21-20 on the road, 25-28 against teams over .500


Offense

The Yankees’ offense has probably been the biggest letdown in comparison to last year, and the numbers don’t really paint the picture of a team ready for October. Slashing a collective .236/.322/.395, their .716 OPS is good for 13th in the league.

They’re still hitting homers with 111 in the bag already this year, which is more than respectable in comparison to other teams. But the Yankees’ slugging seems to be all or nothing as they’re dead last in the league when it comes to both doubles (106) and triples (5) so far this year.

Though they’ve definitely taken a step back, the Yankees’ sluggers aren’t exactly garbage. Still, NY has more the feel of a “three true outcomes” team this season when the stats are viewed as a whole. The team takes a lot of walks (341, 3rd in MLB) and hits a bunch of homers (111, t-9th in MLB), but also strikes out at an unhealthy, though not ghastly, rate (783, 18th in MLB)

Notable Players:

  • Giancarlo Stanton (.274/.367/.498) is the only other Yankees hitter with an OPS north of .800. Since 2019 Stanton has spent more time on the IL than the Yankees were hoping for, but has looked healthy so far this season except for a two week IL stint in mid-May. The Yankees will need him healthy for the rest of the season if they expect to shape any sort of comeback in their division.

Pitching

While Yankees’ batting has been thin on the ground, the pitching seems to be what has kept them competitive so far this season. A collective 3.83 ERA is good for 10th in the league and they’re in the top third when it comes to BAA (.229, 9th in MLB) and WHIP (1.18. 7th in MLB).

The relief corps has really been the saviors for the Yankees as they are second in the league for both BAA (.216) and WHIP (1.16) while the starters languish closer to the middle third of the league rather than the top.

Of course, It doesn’t help that the Yankees’ rotation has been bit by the injury bug. Offseason acquisition Corey Kluber is on the 60-Day IL until probably August with a shoulder injury. They also just sent Michael King, one of their better and more versatile relievers, to the IL with a finger injury.

Notable Relievers:

  • Aroldis Chapman (LHP, 4.55 ERA, 29.2 IP, 52 K’s) remains the Yankees closer, but has been grinding through a rough patch lately. Chapman has surrendered 9 runs in his last 2.1 innings of work across 4 games, including an outing against the Mets where he gave up 3 runs without recording an out. He had a scoreless appearance in his last game against the Mariners, striking out the side, but walked two. Chapman has 16 saves so far in 2021.
  • Chad Green (RHP, 2.23 ERA, 44.1 IP, 48 K’s) and Jonathan Loaisiga (RHP, 2.15 ERA, 46 IP, 45 K’s) have both been workhorses for Boone this season. They also have very similar stats with both appearing in 35 games so far this season. Both have also given up 11 earned runs and 2 unearned ones each. Green has been better at limiting base runners but has given up more home runs that Loaisiga. Honestly, it’s a little weird how close in traditional stats these two relievers are.

Pitching Matchups

Game 1: Nestor Cortes (LHP, 0-0, 1.29 ERA, 29 K’s) vs Jake Odorizzi (RHP, 3-3, 3.70 ERA, 40K’s)

Nestor Cortes gets the nod for his second consecutive start after spending most of 2021 as the Yankees’ long man out of the pen. He tossed 3.1 innings and gave up just a single run his last time out against the Mets. Cortes probably won’t go deep but expect him to cover between 3 to 5 innings depending on whether or not the Astros can get to him early.

Game 2: Gerrit Cole (RHP, 8-4, 2.91 ERA, 135 K’s) vs Zack Greinke (RHP, 8-2, 3.64 ERA, 82 K’s)

It’s been a couple of rough starts in a row for Cole as he comes into this one having given up 10 runs (9 earned) in his last 8.1 innings of work. Still, Cole has fired off 12 quality starts this season, including some that came after the crackdown on sticky stuff. This will be his second start against the Astros after tossing 7 innings of 2-run ball and taking a no decision against them back in May.

Game 3: Jameson Taillon (RHP, 4-4, 5.05 ERA, 82 K’s) vs Framber Valdez (LHP, 5-1, 2.86 ERA, 47 K’s)

Taillon starts this game after pitching his best start of the entire year against Seattle earlier this week. He managed to twirl 7 innings of 1-run ball, only allowing five base runners. His previous start was more indicative of how his season has been going though, where he gave up 5 earned runs in 5.1 innings against the Angels.


For Your Viewing and Listening Pleasure

Game 1: Friday, July 9th @ 7:10 pm CDT
Listen: Yankees - WFAN 660/101.9 FM, WADO 1280 / Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KLAT 1010, KTRH 740 AM/99.1 FM HD-2
Watch: Yankees - YES / Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW /MLB Network (out-of-market only)

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Game 2: Saturday, July 10th @ 6:15 pm CDT
Listen: Yankees - WFAN 660/101.9 FM, WADO 1280 / Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KLAT 1010
Watch: FOX

Game 3: Sunday, July 11th @ 1:10 pm CDT
Listen: Yankees - WFAN 660/101.9 FM, WADO 1280 / Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KLAT 1010
Watch: Yankees - WPIX / Astros - ATT SportsNet-SW / TBS, TBS (out-of-market only)


Poll

Who wins this series?

This poll is closed

  • 26%
    Astros Sweep 3-0
    (45 votes)
  • 61%
    Astros Win 2-1
    (104 votes)
  • 6%
    Yankees Win 2-1
    (11 votes)
  • 5%
    Yankees Sweep 3-0
    (9 votes)
169 votes total Vote Now