NY Yankees (0-1) at Houston (1-0)
When: Saturday, October 14th 2017
Where: Minute Maid Park, Houston, TX
Time: 4:05 ET | TV: FOX
Opening Odds: Houston -135/7.5
The New York Yankees had not answer for Dallas Keuchel on Friday, and now must solve the Houston Astros’ hottest pitcher to avoid going down 2-0 in their best-of-seven American League Championship Series on Saturday. Keuchel continued his career-long dominance of the Yankees with 10 strikeouts over seven scoreless innings in Friday’s 2-1 victory in Game 1. Jose Altuve recorded three more hits, stole a base and scored a run as he improved to 11-for-19 with four walks this postseason. Since being acquired from Detroit, Justin Verlander is 7-0 with a 1.48 ERA in seven games (six starts) and is 4-0 with a 2.82 ERA in his career at Minute Maid Park as he enters his Game 2 start. Verlander will be facing Yankees’ sluggers Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and Greg Bird for the first time. Bird belted a solo shot in the ninth inning of Game 1 to account for the team’s only run and now has three blasts over his last five games. The Yankees will turn to ace Luis Severino, who bounced back from an awful start in the wild-card game to beat Cleveland on Monday in the AL Division Series. The Yankees have struck out 79 times in their last six games.
Pitchers: Yankees – Luis Severino (1-0, 7.36 ERA) | Astros – Justin Verlander (2-0, 3.12)
Severino allowed three runs and four hits while striking out nine Indians in his Game 3 victory, which helped keep that series going. He was hit hard in two regular-season meetings with the Astros, allowing nine runs and 15 hits in 11.2 innings, and has had a hard time with Carlos Correa (3-for-4, two doubles and two walks), Yuli Gurriel (4-for-5, one double) and Marwin Gonzalez (2-for-5, one home run). Severino has been money in his last six road starts, posting a minuscule 0.89 ERA and finished 6-1 with a 2.24 ERA away from home.
Verlander has won both of his two postseason outings, including 2.2 innings of relief in the decisive Game 4 win over Boston in the ALDS. Verlander has a 3.55 ERA in five career starts in the ALCS, including an eight-inning outing in which he allowed one run and struck out 10 against the Red Sox in 2013. He’s had issues with Todd Frazier (5-for-17, two homers) and Didi Gregorius (2-for-6, one homer, one double), but has no trouble with Aaron Hicks (0-for-9, four strikeouts).
The Yankees blew a great outing by Masahiro Tanaka in Game 1 and I don’t expect the Astros offense to be limited in back-to-back games. Verlander will add to the Yankees’ strikeout total and come away with an easy win.
Pick: Astros -1.5+155
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