Two of the three best records are getting ready to square off in a huge four-game series this weekend. This series will have a playoff atmosphere in Yankee Stadium, as the Yankees host the Astros for a four-game set. Who knows? This series could be a 2019 ALCS preview. These two teams currently are both leaving series that were clean sweeps. The Yankees swept the Rays this week, while the Astros were swept this week by the up-and-coming Cincinnati Reds.
The Houston Astros are currently 4-6 in their last ten games. During that four-game stretch, the Astros have only scored seven runs. They are currently on their longest losing streak since August of 2018 when they lost five straight games. A positive for the Astros happened on Wednesday though, as Jose Altuve made his return from the IL.
The Yankees have been on the rise as of late. They are 7-3 in their last ten games and have momentum on their sides after outscoring the Rays 21-4 this week at Yankee Stadium. Over their past five games, they have scored 39 runs as their offense has been firing on all cylinders.
As these two teams get ready to square off this weekend, let’s take a look at the pitching match-up of each game.
2019 ALCS Preview? Game 1: Framber Valdez (Houston) vs. Chad Green (Yankees)
The Yankees look to defend their home turf in game one by starting Chad Green. Green will open the game, and then will most likely hand the game over to the bullpen after pitching two to three innings. As the opener of games this season, Green has a respectable ERA of 3.52, even though his ERA for ALL games this season is 7.54. In May and June, the Yankees have won 11 of the 12 games in which Green has appeared.
The Astros will send their 25-year-old prospect Framber Valdez to the mound. In his last three outings, Valdez has given up three runs in 17 innings of work (1.59 ERA). The thing about those three games, however, is that Valdez was facing some of the bottom teams in the American League (Mariners, Blue Jays, Orioles). He currently sports a 2.77 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP for the season. This will be his first true test as a starting pitcher this season, as he faces a red hot Yankees offense.
Game 2: Brad Peacock (Houston) vs. James Paxton (Yankees)
The Astros will send Brad Peacock to the hill for game two of the four game set. Peacock has given up four runs in each of his previous two starts (vs. Toronto and Milwaukee). Before those two starts, Peacock had six consecutive starts in which he gave up two runs or less. He currently sports a 3.67 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP, and three of his six wins on the season have come on the road.
James Paxton hasn’t been the same pitcher since returning from the IL on May 29. Before heading to the IL, Paxton had an ERA of 3.11. In his four starts since returning from the IL, his ERA has risen from 3.11 to 3.93. He has only been able to complete five innings once in those four starts. This game against the Astros will mark the first time that Paxton has faced a team over .500 since he faced the San Diego Padres on May 29.
Game 3: Wade Miley (Astros) vs. Masahiro Tanaka (Yankees)
On Saturday, the Yankees send Masahiro Tanaka to the mound. He will be looking to build off the momentum of his last start, in which he threw a complete-game shutout against Tampa Bay. Tanaka is currently 5-5 with a 3.23 ERA and a WHIP of 1.10. Tanaka did give up four runs in each of the three starts before his complete-game shutout.
Wade Miley has been the picture of consistency this season for the Astros. He has given up four runs only once in fifteen starts, and currently sports at 6-4 record. His 3.30 ERA and 1.19 WHIP are very respectable for a middle of the rotation guy, and his ERA is 90 points less than his career numbers. Will he be able to keep up this level of consistency?
Game 4: Justin Verlander (Astros) vs. J.A Happ (Yankees)
With this pitching match-up, it is shocking that this is not the Sunday Night game of the week. The Yankees will send J.A. Happ to the mound in the final game of the four game series. Happ is 7-3 with a 4.59 ERA this year, showing that he has been the recipient of favorable run support. He has not lost a start since his May 4 start against the Minnesota Twins. Happ will need to deliver one of his best starts of the season if he plans on winning this match-up.
For the first time all season, we can say that Justin Verlander is win-less in his last three starts. He gave up three runs, three runs, and four runs in those three starts. He currently sports a 9-3 record with a 2.59 ERA and a 0.74 WHIP. A Sunday afternoon game against one of the hottest offenses in the game will be a playoff-type match-up for this former Cy Young award winner.
This four game set is destined to be a classic series, with future playoff seeding implications. This series will be a great glimpse of a power-house series that we may get to see in October.