Houston Astros vs New York Yankees Pick
Houston Astros (48-27) at New York Yankees (46-27)
When: 7 p.m., Thursday, June 20
Where: Yankee Stadium, New York
Starting Pitchers: Framber Valdez (3-2, 2.77 ERA, 1.18 WHIP) vs. Chad Green (1-2, 7.54 ERA, 1.68 WHIP)
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Welcome to the latest change in the game becoming more mainstream. The Yankees have taken the strategy used by the Tampa Bay Rays last season and put it to use for them in the form of “opening pitchers”. If you aren’t familiar with openers, they basically work the exact same way that a closer does: you try to overpower your opponent with one of your strongest pitchers, understanding that A., you might need that pitcher and not have him later, and B., that your opener could get shelled and lose the game and waste your bullpen pitchers all in the span of an inning.
The Yankees are going full bore into this with Green, who has been up and down all season as a reliever but seems to have finally found his niche as an opener. In his past two starts, Green held the Indians and the White Sox to one hit each in two innings before departing for a reliever. Against Chicago, he was particularly strong, striking out six of the seven batters that he faced.
That makes it tough to gauge just how good the Yankees are going to be in this one, because Green has a rather small sample size. There’s no way to know who the Yankees will bring in to pitch in the third inning when Green exits (and he will, because he hasn’t gone longer than two innings all season) and there’s no way to know if the Astros will be able to solve Green early. He’s done well in two starts as an opener, but in the appearance before, he came in as a reliever and surrendered four hits to a light-hitting Toronto squad, making him rather fortunate to get out of his one inning with only one run of damage.
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Framber: Spanish for Swish
No, it isn’t, but it sure seems appropriate for Dominican-born Framber Valdez after his past two starts. Like Green, Valdez has finally gotten his chance to start games instead of relieve after spending most of the year coming out of the bullpen. Unlike Green, Valdez was always meant to be a starter. He spent the first party of the year as a long reliever, only coming in for mop-up duty, but Corbin Martin’s struggles and demotion to AAA Round Rock opened up a spot for Valdez, and he’s making the most of it.
Granted, his first two starts were only against the Orioles and Blue Jays, not exactly a powerful pair. But 15 strikeouts in his past 13 innings speaks for itself, no matter who you’re facing. What makes Valdez so effective is the fact that not only does he miss bats, but he’s learning not to beat himself. In his past two appearances as a starter, he limited himself to just two walks combined, a marked change from when he used to average a walk an inning as a reliever.
The first game in a new city is never an easy thing for the visiting squad, especially when they traveled and their opponents did not. The Astros did get out of Cincinnati at a decent time and don’t have that bad of a trip from Ohio to the Bronx, but the fact remains that they had to get on an airplane and get to the next city, while the Yankees simply got an extra day at home after getting their game out of the way early, as they played Tampa Bay at home on a getaway day. A rested Yankees squad could make a big difference.
Now’s the time for the Bronx Bombers to show that they’re on the same level as Houston. The Astros easily swept a three-game series with the Yankees in Houston earlier this year, with only one game decided by less than two runs. New York needs to show that it can play with Houston for its own confidence, and that’s even more important right now, with the Astros struggling. Losing this series would be a disaster for New York’s mindset should the teams meet in the ALCS.
- The Astros are 6-1 in their past seven when their opponent allowed 2 runs or less in the previous game.
- The Astros have lost their past four games against a right-handed starter.
- The Yankees are 11-2 in their past 13 when the opponent scored 2 runs or less in their previous game.
- The Yankees have won Green’s past six starts.
- The under is 6-1-1 in the Yankees’ past eight series openers.
- The under is 4-1 in the Astros’ past five games following a loss.
67 degrees is a good thing, but showers in the forecast are not for this televised matchup in the Bronx.
With the odds not up at the time of this writing, it’s not an ideal time to make a pick. However, with the Astros coming in having lost four straight, it’s hard to pick them in this spot. Houston is reeling at the moment, and while the Astros are too good to be in a slump for long, it’s hard to take them to beat the Bronx Bombers when they were just swept by decided non-power Cincinnati.
With Green opening the game, you don’t know what you’re going to get from the Yankee bullpen. However, the Yankee hitters just did some serious bashing against a good Tampa Bay team, outscoring the Rays 21-4 in a three-game set in New York.
Yeah, I’m not taking the slumping Astros against a team that’s won five straight and seems to be getting stronger. The price will probably be pretty weak, but give me the Yankees.
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