The 2019 Division Series has officially come and gone, which means the quest for the Commissioner's Trophy is trimmed to four teams. Many fans have anticipated an Astros-Yankees ALCS matchup since Opening Day. And that is exactly what the baseball gods have gifted us.
The Bronx Bombers will be seeking their 41st American League pennant while the Astros are eager to punch their ticket to the fall classic after being ousted by Boston last season. The two clubs will continue their championship journeys Saturday at Minute Maid Park.
In preparation for the series, we have assembled five bold predictions.
Remember, these predictions are daring. Although they are constructed using statistics, splits, and individual matchup numbers, there is a very slim chance of all five proving true. Judge them accordingly.
"I've never seen anything like Gleyber, especially at his age, 22. To be doing what he's doing in the big leagues is something that's unheard of."
Unfortunately, Torres does not match up well against Houston, a right-hand dominant pitching staff. In his career against Verlander, Cole and Greinke, he has managed just three hits in 20 at-bats with seven strikeouts. He is also 0-2 against closer Roberto Osuna.
Torres will be neutralized this series, which is nothing to hang his head about. Houston's pitching staff is just that good.
If Houston has any weakness, it may lie in their bullpen (even that may be a stretch considering they ranked third in the AL in ERA). Nevertheless, their bullpen struggled mightily against New York this year.
In seven games, Houston's bullpen surrendered 15 earned runs in just 19 2/3 innings. Considering New York's high-powered offense and the fact that it is a best-of-seven series, Houston may have to dig deep through their staff.
Osuna and Will Harris have been rocks all season long, but New York's lineup can crush with the best of them.
Stanton's numbers against Houston's Big Three starters? Nothing spectacular (.194 BA); however, he does have some power ownage.
Stanton has gone yard against all three of Houston's three starters. Not to mention, the short porch to the Crawford Boxes in left at Minute Maid Park is a right-handed hitters' dream. He also rakes off lefties (.297/.393/.634 career slash), which is significant considering the Astros are likely going to need a fourth starter in the series. Southpaw Wade Miley would certainly be considered one of the front-runners for the job.
Amid the recent Stanton slander, he will win Yankees' fans hearts back with a power display in the ALCS.
Perhaps the most underrated takeaway from the Yankees' sweep over Minnesota was their bullpen was rewarded with rest. Aroldis Chapmanreportedlycollided with a flying champagne bottle during their celebration, and Zack Britton exited Game 3 with an ankle issue.
New York's inability to pitch deep into ball games is a snowball effect waiting to happen. The pen combined to throw 49.38 percent of the innings against Minnesota. In a seven-game series, that strategy is likely unsustainable.
Not to mention, Chapman has posted a 5.89 ERA in his career against Houston --- his worst mark against any opponent. Chapman has also struggled across his career in multi-inning save situations in the postseason (four blown saves in eight opportunities).
New York was a completely different pitching staff at home as opposed to on the road in the regular season.
As for Houston, they too are a team of home crowd pleasers -- particularly at the plate.
Both clubs have controlled home turf thus far through the postseason, and I see this series being no exception. Houston moves on to their second World Series in three years in an absolute thrilling Game 7 in Houston.