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Astros Series Preview: The Highly Anticipated ALCS Rematch With The Bronx Bombers

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HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 21: Lance McCullers Jr. #43 of the Houston Astros celebrates after defeating the New York Yankees by a score of 4-0 to win Game Seven of the American League Championship Series at Minute Maid Park on October 21, 2017 in Houston, Texas. The Houston Astros advance to face the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 21: Lance McCullers Jr. #43 of the Houston Astros celebrates after defeating the New York Yankees by a score of 4-0 to win Game Seven of the American League Championship Series at Minute Maid Park on October 21, 2017 in Houston, Texas. The Houston Astros advance to face the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /
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This series against the Astros and Yankees, in theory, should be far less stressful than the last. Of course, hasty assumptions can be quite hazardous for your health.

Astros.

Yankees.

A rematch of the AL’s two best teams from one season ago.

And 24 straight flipping curveballs. Oh, fun times.

Both teams are viewed as two of the best in baseball today. The destruction their offenses wrought to the rest of the league last year did not go unnoticed. And the pitching staffs are quite solid as well. In a lot of ways, both teams are evenly matched. Their records indicate as much with the Astros at 19-10 and the Yankees at 18-9.

Game 1: RHP Charlie Morton (3-0, 1.86 ERA) vs. RHP Sonny Gray (1-1, 7.71 ERA)

Game 2: RHP Justin Verlander (4-0, 1.36 ERA) vs. LHP Jordan Montgomery (2-0, 3.76 ERA)

Game 3: LHP Dallas Keuchel (1-4, 4.00 ERA) vs. RHP Luis Severino (4-1, 2.61 ERA)

Game 4: RHP Lance McCullers (4-1, 3.71 ERA) vs. RHP Masahiro Tanaka (4-2. 4.37 ERA)

Here is how each team stands in three parts: offense, starting rotation, and bullpen.

Astros

Offense: .258/.340/.413, 32 HR, 147 R, 10.5% walk rate, 22.9% strikeout rate, 110 wRC+, 4.2 fWAR

Starting Rotation: 2.50 ERA, 3.21 FIP, 3.31 xFIP, 1.1 fWAR, 30.3% strikeout rate, 7.1% walk rate

Bullpen: 2.80 ERA, 3.03 FIP, 3.12 xFIP, 4.6 fWAR, 26.9% strikeout rate, 6.6% walk rate

Yankees

Offense: .259/.346/.466, 41 HR, 163 R, 11.4% walk rate, 23.4% strikeout rate, 119 wRC+, 5.8 fWAR

Starting Rotation: 3.80 ERA, 3.92 FIP, 4.14 xFIP, 2.8 fWAR, 22.2% strikeout rate, 8.4% walk rate

Bullpen: 3.46 ERA, 2.92 FIP, 3.01 xFIP, 2.1 fWAR, 33.3% strikeout rate, 9.8% walk rate

So, what should we expect from this series?

For one, the Astros currently have the best pitching staff in baseball. The entire staff has posted a 2.59 ERA with a 5.7 fWAR. In particular, the starting rotation has started the season in terrific fashion. A 2.50 ERA and 4.6 fWAR from the group of Verlander, Keuchel, McCullers, Gerrit Cole, and Morton has gotten the job done. Sure, there are a few hiccups now and then. Overall, you can’t help but be pleased with the results from the starting rotation.

However, the Yankees still own the edge in the bullpen by various metrics. To their credit, though, the Astros do maintain a lower ERA and walk rate from the bullpen than New York. The gap at the current state of affairs between the two bullpens appears to have narrowed, yet the season is still young.

In terms of the offense, both teams have been amongst the top of the baseball world. The Astros’ lineup, though, has went through some dry spells early on this season. On the other hand, the Yankees have been hitting quite well as they currently lead baseball in numerous offensive metrics. That said, it would be irresponsible to consider New York as a vastly superior offense to the Astros. There is not much separation between the two teams. Like the bullpen situation, the season is still young.

Next: Astros Minor League Recap April 23-29: Fresno leads the pack

Regardless of the numbers, this ALCS rematch should be a fun one to watch. In fact, the Astros have played the Yankees quite well as of late in Minute Maid Park. Last season, Houston finished with a 6-1 record (including the postseason) against the Bronx Bombers. Let’s hope for another strong showing from the Astros in front of the home crowd.

**Statistics and information courtesy of FanGraphs**

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