The Astros head into today’s game looking to take control of the series and regain momentum in the ALCS.
Game 4 pins Sonny Gray against Lance McCullers, Jr. in what is the most critical game of the series. First, momentum is at a tipping point and is the most prominent reason to the Yankees could get back into this series. The Astros want to seize control of the series and put the Yankees on their heels.
An Astros victory in Game 4 robs the momentum and the control of the series, leaving them in the best position to move on to the World Series.
Early Lead Pivotal
After a lackluster offensive output in Game 3, the Astros need to bounce back with quality at-bats and hits. The key to them is controlling this game by having an early lead. Luckily, their matchup with Gray is more than conducive of that. They will lean on their earlier success to score early, and force the Yankees to play from behind.
Let the Pitchers Pitch
A pitcher’s priority is to throw a pitch that a hitter doesn’t swing at, and an umpire calls a strike. To ride these edges, a pitcher needs a lead. None more so than McCullers, who would be able to expand the zone and force hitters to hit his pitches. Better yet, the bullpen will be aggressive and challenge hitters. An early lead puts the Astros in place to control the pace of the game and the way the Yankees play in the later innings.
Fatigue the Yankees Bullpen
The playoffs are a war of attrition. At times, games are won and lost based on usage of bullpen and mismatches. The Astros are not the strongest in regards to their bullpen, so leading early is necessary. An early lead forces the Yankees to open their relievers, and drive their pitch counts up. With Game 5 scheduled the very next day, it is a recipe the Astros can use to close this series early.
All in all, the Astros are still in great position to advance to the World Series. An offensive spark and a quality start from McCullers. is the perfect recipe to a Game 4 victory.
***Stats from Baseball-Reference***