The easy part of the schedule is over. At least it was supposed to be easy. After a few weeks of losing to below-.500 teams, the Yankees travel to Houston for a three-game series against the Astros. The top club in the American League owns a 54 - 26 record. When these two teams last met in mid-May, the Bombers dropped three games out of four. Here’s hoping the Yankees fare better this time around.
Game 1: Michael Pineda vs. Lance McCullers Jr.
Remember when people thought Pineda finally figured it out? That was fun. After two months of pitching to a 3.32 ERA, he’s come crashing back down to Earth. In five starts since June 2nd, the right-hander owns a 5.86 ERA with a 5.24 FIP. He’s also returned to his home run prone ways, too. He has a sky-high 1.95 HR/9. That’s the frustrating Pineda we’ve seen for the better part of two years now. Maybe he’ll get on another roll in Houston. I wouldn’t count on it though.
As for the Astros, McCullers Jr. takes the ball in game one. He’s having an awfully impressive season, too. Over 81.2 innings, he’s pitched to a 2.53 ERA with excellent peripherals. He missed a few starts with lower back pain earlier this month, but he looked strong in his return against the Mariners last weekend. He held Seattle to one run over five runners while striking out eight. Look out for his curveball. It’s nasty.
Game 2: Jordan Montgomery vs. Francis Martes
Game two features a battle of rookie pitchers. Montgomery starts for the Yankees, and he looks to continue his strong season. The southpaw has pitched to a 3.53 ERA (3.82 FIP) across 81.2 innings. He looked particularly impressive in his last start against the White Sox. Montgomery tossed seven innings of one run ball, complete with eight strikeouts. More of that please.
Martes, on the other hand, had a rough first taste of the big leagues. He owns a 5.51 ERA (5.34 FIP) over two starts. Don’t let that fool you, though. He was one of baseball’s top pitching prospects, and has a devastating arsenal. The right-hander runs up an electric fastball with a hammer curveball. He’s no pushover, that’s for sure.
Game 3: Luis Severino vs. Mike Fiers
Severino is having quite the season, isn’t he? The young right-hander has posted a 3.15 ERA with incredible peripherals to match. He’s racked up a 10.21 K/9 and a 56% groundball rate. Those numbers are close to elite. In his last outing against the White Sox, Severino notched a career-high 12 strikeouts. Another strong start could help his case for an All-Star selection.
The story’s a bit different for Fiers, who struggled out the gate this season. Over five starts in June, however, he’s pitched to a 2.32 ERA with a 2.59 FIP. He hasn’t allowed a home run over this period, either. Compare this to his April and May where he owned a 4.96 ERA with an insane 3.08 HR/9. When you think about it this way, Fiers is the anti-Pineda. They’re having mirror opposite seasons, which is pretty interesting. Let’s just hope the Yankees inflate that home run total a little more.