Judging by the first two games in the ALCS, it did not look like the New York Yankees were serious threats to make it to the World Series.
We noted their obvious value at +1200 to win it all when we went over World Series matchup odds, but nobody expected Aaron Judge and co. to rip off three consecutive wins.
Suddenly a Yankees team that started hot and went cold is now on the brink of competing for a championship. Houston still has a chance to stay in this thing and even win it, however. That starts tonight with ace Justin Verlander (15-8, 3.36 ERA) looking to force a game seven.
That’s why he’s here, after all.
Early indications are that the oddsmakers love the Astros. Houston is the better team on paper, they’ll have the superior hurler on the mound and they’ll be at home. After New York ran off three straight wins, top MLB betting sites like Bovada hand the Astros a -147 line as the favorites.
Is that the bet to take, or should we latch onto the Yanks during their wild ride? Let’s dig deeper into this matchup to find out:
The Yanks obviously offer the upside in this spot. They are red hot after winning three straight to take control of this series and the narrative/momentum favor them. The value we get with them in the face of a World Series entrance is rather intriguing.
While that can’t be ignored, it’s not like we’re getting no value with the Astros. Houston is 2-0 at home in this series and as the better seed, they get to close out the series at home over the next two games, should the series go the distance.
The odds aren’t bad for that to happen, either. Houston’s back is against the wall, but they have an elite arm in Verlander that could dominate this matchup. We have every reason to think that, seeing as Verlander has been on fire during these playoffs.
Verlander has given up just four total runs across three postseason appearances, while he specifically wrecked these Yankees (13 strikeouts, 1 earned run in a CG win).
Verlander has been flat out dealing and is 3-0 in the playoffs this year. With the season on the line, Houston would rather have nobody else be trying to will this team into a decisive seventh game.
There also has to be some hope for the Astros to blow up offensively. This is one of the most stacked units in the majors, yet they haven’t scored more than 4 runs in a single game during this season.
Credit is due to the Yankees for their pitching and overall defense, while Luis Severino (14-6, 2.98 ERA) in theory gives them an elite arm to combat Verlander’s dominance.
There’s no doubt that the Astros win this pitching matchup on paper, however. Severino enjoyed a career year during the regular season, but he simply hasn’t been the same guy during the playoffs. The 23-year old righty couldn’t even get out of the first inning in a wild card showdown with the Twins, after all.
He’s rebounded since then, as he worked the Indians to the tune of 9 strikeouts, but only lasted 4 innings in his lone appearance against Houston. Can he handle the Astros and last deep enough to give New York a chance on the road against Verlander? That’s the question we all need to answer.
Ultimately, I have way more confidence in Verlander in this spot. New York runs hot and cold and they’re much more likely to see a dip in production on the road in a less explosive ballpark. Of the two pitchers, Severino is far more likely to implode at this point, too.
Maybe it’s not even about Severino or Verlander in the end, though. At some point, if these Astros are doing anything of substance, they need to show up offensively. This team is just too loaded, whether it’s Jose Altuve, George Springer or Carlos Correa or one of Houston’s many power bats stepping up.
Some have speculated that this has just been too big for the Astros. They shrunk on the road against these Yankees and undoubtedly are in the process of choking away a trip to the World Series. That may be so, but with Verlander at home at -147, we need to pounce.
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