Yankees name Masahiro Tanaka Game 1 starter for ALCS vs. Astros

ALCS Series Prediction: Will Astros turn away underdog Yankees? 10/12/17

ALCS Series Prediction: Will Astros turn away underdog Yankees? 10/12/17

Right-hander Justin Verlander has looked rejuvenated since the Astros acquired the 34-year-old in a trade from the Detroit Tigers on August 31. If they gain the lead early in games, they force opponents to do things differently to get a win. The Yankees weren't supposed to be in contention this soon while the Astros are in a window where they're expected to make a deep run and finally win the franchise's first title.

Over on the Yankees' side, they went to Game 5 against the Indians having lost their first two games in Cleveland 4-0 and 9-8, then winning 1-0 and 7-3 in NY before returning to Cleveland for Game 5 and a tense victory 5-2. While the Astros do have some decent arms, they haven't had almost the reliability of the Yankees' pen. He then notched two wins over the Red Sox, one as a starter and the other in the first relief appearance of his 13-year career, allowing three runs in 8 2/3 innings. In the ALDS, the two had a combined five hits, two home runs, five RBIs, four walks, and 26 strikeouts. This bullpen gives them a distinct advantage late in the game, as the Astros' mediocre relief pitching put them 17th in Major League Baseball with a 4.17 ERA, and they followed that up with 10 runs allowed over 16.1 innings in their ALDS matchup with the Boston Red Sox.

When the Yankees receive a solid start, they are pretty tough to beat.

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Meanwhile, his main competition for AL MVP could not be struggling more.

Judge did not receive the quality of help around him like Yulieski Gurriel and George Springer, who each hit over.400, while Carlos Correa is still arguably the best shortstop despite not having his best series. NY might win a couple games in the ALCS when hitters like Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez are able to carry them, but ultimately it's hard to envision Houston not winning the series. Yet, the Yankees can not feel as great about their chances if Judge replicates this clunker of a series. Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander have the ability to do just that.

The Yankees will be going with RHP Sonny Gray in Game 1 of the ALCS.

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Still, the Yankees can counter. Plus, Gray was pretty "meh" in his Division Series start, giving up three earned in 3.1 innings. Tanaka has been outstanding in his last couple starts and Severino rebounded from a round AL Wild Card outing to slow down Cleveland in Game 3 of the ALCS.

With all of these factors in mind, the Yankees feel like the favorite here. Check out some of the reactions below, including some more trolling from the New York Yankees official twitter handle.

If series are won with pitching, total, the Yankees have a huge advantage in their bullpen.

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Statistics are courtesy of MLB.com unless otherwise noted.

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