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Houston Astros vs. New York Yankees

Houston Astros (107-55) at New York Yankees (103-59)

MLB: Friday, October 18th, 2019 at 7:08 pm ET (Yankee Stadium)

Line and Odds: Houston Astros -145/New York Yankees +131 Over/Under: 7.5

Free ESPN MLB Picks New York Yankees vs. Houston Astros

Houston

The Houston Astros are now 1 win away from making their 2nd World Series appearance in 3 years. Their 8-3 win over the Yankees in the Bronx last night puts them one step closer toward living up to their reputation as “the best baseball team.” In the last 2 games, the Astros have outscored the Yankees 12-4 with both games at Yankee Stadium. Even though the Yankees have been able to get men on base and force Astros’ pitchers into troublesome spots, Houston has gotten the key outs in high-leverage situations. For example, Gerrit Cole didn’t have his best stuff in game 3. Cole gave up 4 hits and 5 walks in 7 innings pitched, but he didn’t give up a run. Ever since Carlos Correa hit the game winning home run in game 2, Houston has been the better team in the big spots.

Houston had one of the best offenses in Major League Baseball in the regular season. The Astros averaged 5.68 runs per game, ranking 3rd in the MLB in scoring. They led the Major Leagues in many of the major batting categories. Houston ranked 1st in the MLB in terms of batting average, on base percentage, slugging percentage, on base plus slugging percentage and OPS+. A couple of their most important batters have been struggling to get hits against the Yankees’ pitchers. George Springer has gone 2 for 17 this series, while Carlos Correa has gone 3 for 17. However, both Springer and Correa have 2 home runs in this series.

In order to close out this series, the Houston Astros will send out Justin Verlander (on full rest) to the mound as today’s starting pitcher. In his 15th MLB season, Justin Verlander is still one of the best pitchers in baseball. He leads all of baseball in wins, WHIP, and hits allowed per 9 innings. In 34 regular season starts, he compiled a 21-6 record and 223 innings pitched. He had a 2.58 ERA, a 3.27 FIP, and a 0.803 WHIP. His strikeout-to-walk ratio of 7.14 was the best mark in the American League. Verlander allowed 5.5 hits, 1.5 home runs, and 2.66 runs per 9 innings. It is entirely possible that there is another Cy Young in his future. Paired up with a bullpen that ranks 2nd in ERA, it’s easy to see why Verlander has such a strong record.

New York

The New York Yankees are on the brink of elimination in the American League Championship Series. They find themselves down 3-1 in the series after last night’s 8-3 loss to the Houston Astros. It has been tough sledding for the Yankees ever since they gave up the game winning home run in game 2. They won the series opener 7-0 and it looked like New York would be a tough out for the favored Astros. Since then, the Yankees have only been able to put up 6 runs in 3 games.

It’s been somewhat surprising to see how poorly the Yankees’ offense perform in the last 3 games because of how strong their offense was in the regular season. New York ranked #1 in scoring, averaging 5.82 runs per game. They ranked in the top 5 in batting average, slugging percentage, on base percentage, on base plus slugging percentage, and OPS+. The Yankees were 2nd in OPS+, 3rd in OPS and slugging percentage, and 4th in OBP and batting average. In the regular season, New York led Major League Baseball in batting average with runners in scoring position. In this series, they haven’t been anywhere near their regular season marks. The Yankees have gone 4 for 27 at the plate with runners in scoring position in this series. In Game 4, they stranded 10 and went 0 for 7 with RISP. Gary Sanchez has struggled in this series, even though he managed to get a homer in last night’s game. Giancarlo Stanton has missed the last 3 games because of a strained right quad, and it’s unclear whether he will see action tonight.

James Paxton will be today’s pitcher for the New York Yankees in game 5. It will be interesting to see how Paxton performs because there has been discussion about whether he has been tipping his pitches against the Astros. In his first start against Houston this season, they got 5 runs off of Paxton in 4 innings. In game 2 of this series, Paxton only lasted 2 and 1/3 innings after giving up 4 hits and 2 walks (just 1 run, however). The Yankees ace has a 3.82 ERA on the year. He has a 3.86 FIP, a 1.281 WHIP, and a 3.38 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He has given up 8.2 hits, 1.4 home runs, and 4.24 runs per 9 innings. It might not even matter how well Paxton or the bullpen pitches if the Yankees’ fielders don’t get it together. The New York Yankees committed 4 errors in last night’s loss to the Astros. That is the highest amount of errors the Yankees franchise has committed in a postseason game since game 2 of the 1976 American League Championship Series. DJ LeMathieu committed 2 errors and Gleyber Torres committed the other two.

Cover The Spread 365 Betting Trends

Astros

The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Houston’s last 6 games.

Houston is 10-3 SU in their last 13 games on the road.

Houston is 15-5 SU in their last 20 games this season.

Yankees

The total has gone UNDER in 4 of NY Yankees’ last 5 games.

The total has gone OVER in 4 of NY Yankees’ last 5 games at home.

The total has gone OVER in 4 of NY Yankees’ last 6 games when playing at home against Houston.

ESPN MLB Scores Houston Astros vs. New York Yankees

I’m taking the Under 7.5 at -105 in this matchup. I like the matchup of Verlander against the Yankee batters. Verlander has a 2.38 ERA in the postseason against the Yankees. He has a 3.18 ERA overall in his 28 postseason appearances. Verlander has been lights out this postseason when he’s had full rest. The Yankees’ bats have been struggling to come up clutch when they have a chance to bat a run in. Who knows if Stanton’s going to play or if Gary Sanchez is going to play well. Houston has the 2nd best bullpen ERA in the major leagues, so it doesn’t get any easier when he leaves a ball game. On the flip side, I think Paxton can hold down the Astros’ lineup. For all the talk about the Astros reading Paxton’s pitches, we don’t have enough of a sample size to buy into that. In his last 7 and 1/3 innings pitched against the Astros, he has only given up 2 runs. The Yankees’ bullpen ranks 9th in bullpen ERA, 3rd in strikeouts per 9 innings, and 6th in left on base percentage. These factors, in addition to the low amount of runs we’ve seen in the postseason, leads me to believe that the under will cover here.

Under 7.5 (-105)
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