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Possible postseason matchup: Astros vs Aaron Judge

Aaron Judge could face the Astros in the postseason. There are some reasons to be optimistic if that happens.

Houston Astros v New York Yankees Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Except for a huge last-minute debacle, the Yankees and the Astros are going to be in the postseason and they could face each other at one point of October. The Yankees’ biggest weapon is the best hitter baseball has had in 2022: Aaron Judge. Through Saturday, Judge was leading his league in home runs (55), RBIs (120), runs (112), walks (87), OPS (1.095), total bases (342), and a few more departments.

If both teams collide again before the World Series, one popular question on the Astros’ side will be how to stop Judge. And that’s a really tough question, whose answer has been almost impossible to find since opening day. When you’re facing an apparently flawless hitter, you need to take advantage of everything you can and be aware of little details.

Fortunately, Judge does have some flaws – even though they’re almost invisible. If you like being optimistic, here’s a little but interesting piece: he’s striking out every four plate appearances (25.5 SO%). Besides, he’s less lethal when attacked outside in the strike zone as you can see in the graphics below (from catcher’s perspective)…

Despite Judge hitting two of his 55 home runs against the Astros, Houston has done really good against the Yankee threat this season. In seven games and 31 plate appearances, the 30-year-old outfielder is 4-for-27 with eight strikeouts against the ‘Stros’ pitchers.

It also seems that Judge has recently felt the pressure of playing in October. In his last 12 postseason games –a span that includes the final four games of the 2019 American League Championship Series against the Astros–, Judge has posted a .160/.246/.340 slash line with only eight hits over 50 at-bats.

But in case Judge’s unbelievable season keeps going in the playoffs and the Yankees face the Astros at some point, here’s another good news: throughout his career, Judge has gone 16-for-79 against all current Astros’ pitchers with 31 strikeouts and a .203/.315/.430 line – has not faced Hunter Brown and Will Smith.

Judge is 5-for-51 with 19 punchouts combined in his career against Justin Verlander, Lance McCullers Jr., Rafael Montero, Luis García, Cristian Javier, Héctor Neris, and José Urquidy.

So, you can say the Astros do know how to stop Aaron Judge. If they meet again in the postseason, it will likely be a huge, fun, must-watch series.