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New York Yankees vs. Houston Astros: Series Preview

The Yankees are looking for revenge after getting swept back in April.

MLB: ALCS-New York Yankees at Houston Astros Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Thanks to a sweep of the Rays, the Yankees are now up 3.5 games in the AL East coming into this season. Things don’t get easier, however, as now they have to face off against the AL-West-leading Houston Astros.

According to winning percentage, the Astros come in with the third-best record in baseball, and swept the Yankees in Houston back in April. That was before the Yankees started to really pick things up, but the Astros themselves were hovering around .500 back then too.

The two teams have seen a lot of each other over the last couple seasons, and may meet again at some point in October this year. We still have a while to get there, and lots of baseball to play. Included in that is this four-game set in the Bronx starting tonight. Let’s take a look at the pitching matchups that we’ll see over the next couple days.

Game one: TBD vs. Framber Valdez

While it hasn’t been announced at time of writing, the Yankees will almost definitely be using Chad Green as an opener to kick off the series. In his most recent outing as an opener, Green was excellent, striking out six of the seven batters he faced. On the other hand, the Astros were responsible for Green’s worst outing of the season, tagging him for three runs in just 0.2 innings back in April.

It turns out Framber is a real player and not the celebrity couple name for Frank Stallone and Amber Rose. This will be the Yankees’ first ever look at Valdez, who has been sharp in his young career. His two most recent appearances have been his only two starts so far this year, and he allowed a combined three runs in 13 innings against the Orioles and Blue Jays.

Game two: James Paxton vs. Brad Peacock

Paxton has spent most of his career in the same division as the Astros, and has generally done well against them. He comes into Friday’s game with a 3.33 ERA against Houston in 75.2 innings. In the Astros’ 2017 World Series-winning season, he allowed a combined four runs in four starts. However, he did face them earlier this season, and it ended in one of Paxton’s worst starts of the season. He allowed two home runs to Jose Altuve, and five runs total in just four innings.

After an excellent stretch in May, Peacock is coming off of a pair of less than stellar starts. In June, his ERA has risen exactly half a run, thanks mostly to the Brewers and Blue Jays putting up four runs a piece on him in the last week and a half.

Game three: Masahiro Tanaka vs. Wade Miley

So, how did Tanaka do last time out?

After a couple bad starts in a row, Tanaka bounced back with one of the best of his career, throwing a complete game shutout against the Rays. It’ll be tough to replicate that against Houston’s offense, but he was pretty solid against them back in April.

The last time Wade Miley faced the Yankees, they tagged him for six runs in 0.1 innings. (Also known as a “Snell”, these days). That was September 14, 2017 when he was an Oriole, and things have improved quite a lot for him since then. He started 2018 on a minor league contract with the Brewers, but after a really solid year, he ended up making playoff starts Milwaukee. That got him a contract with Houston in the offseason, where he’s continued to have success.

Game four: J.A. Happ vs. Justin Verlander

I think we’re all quite aware of this Verlander guy. He’s had plenty of success against New York throughout his career, but the Yankees did tag him for three runs on seven hits back in April. More of that, and less of whatever this was, please.

After Tuesday’s game against the Rays, Happ gets to hang a “It has been 1 game(s) since my last allowed home run” sign in his locker, so that’s good.