Thursday, October 12, 2017

2017 ALCS preview

By Rick Morris

New York Yankees vs. Houston.  Few cities have the sports advantage on the Big Apple when it comes to big events, but between the 2015 AL Wild Card Game and the 1994 NBA Finals (John Starks, anyone?), the capital of America’s Gulf Coast certainly does.

On paper, they’ve got a lot of similarities: young teams with a lot of pop.  Houston has a bit more and is considered less ahead of schedule than the Yankees.  In particular, the matchup of the Astros’ lineup, the most explosive in the league, against the explosiveness of Luis Severino and the back end of the Yankee bullpen will be strength-on-strength at its fines.

Houston’s lineup is less all-or-nothing than New York’s, as exemplified by their respective MVP candidates, Jose Altuve and Aaron Judge.  Having said that, the Yankees are going to have a much easier time scratching out runs.

But this is a series where New York will have to produce runs en masse because they won’t be getting the benefit of a Cleveland team hopelessly beating themselves at the plate this time.  Can they keep up?  They’ll have to do so early, to exploit their advantage in the bullpen (with the exception of Game 1, when the better-rested Astros would be the prime beneficiaries of a bullpen game) – but Houston has the better rotation, so that’s unlikely.  This time, New York’s going up against a very talented squad that also is very loose, unlike the Tribe – because once the Astros made it to the ALCS and avoided what would be considered an unsuccessful season by their rising standards, they were playing with house money.  That’s bad news for the Yankees, a franchise dipped in the gold glitter of history who will now see their opponents become the first franchise ever to win pennants in both leagues.  Astros in 5.

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