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New York Yankees vs. Houston Astros: Gerrit Cole vs. Zack Greinke

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Two aces take the mound in the middle game of a three-game set against the best in the AL West.

New York Mets v New York Yankees - Game One Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images

You know what’s better than shutting out an opponent? Shutting out the offense that is leading the league in OPS+ and runs/game. That is exactly what Nestor Cortes Jr. and the Yankees’ bullpen did last night en route to a 4-0 victory. A good way to start the series against the hated Houston Astros, I’d say.

Gerrit Cole (8-4, 2.91 ERA, 3.06 FIP) gets the enviable task of following up Cortes and friends. The All-Star righty was absolutely dominant to start the season, accruing 3.1 fWAR and posting a 1.78 ERA during the first two months of the season. Since the start of June, however, he has been in a bit of a rut, which may or may not have to do with the foreign substances controversy (it probably does, at least to a degree): thanks to a 5.24 ERA in his last six starts, his ERA on the season has climbed by more than a full run, to 2.91. Cole hit rock bottom in his last outing, unable to make it out of the fourth, surrendering four runs on six hits and three walks — as many free passes as he allowed from the beginning of the season until May 17th!

To quote Jersey Boys, “Like that bunny on the TV with the battery,” Zack Greinke (8-2, 3.64 ERA, 4.07 FIP) just keeps on going. Now in his age-37 season and with 18 years in the majors under his belt, his strikeouts are down (6.6 K/9, down from career 8.2) his walks are slightly up (1.8 BB/9, up from 1.3 in 2019 and 1.2 in 2020), and he has become susceptible to the long ball (1.2 HR/9, highest since 2016 in Arizona), but he remains a quality innings-eater and a tough matchup for the Yankees lineup. That said, the Yankees did rough Greinke up a bit in Houston’s visit to the Bronx earlier this year, tagging him for four runs on nine hits in four innings, as well as working four walks — the most he has surrendered in a game since August 7, 2018.

After sitting yesterday, Luke Voit returns to the lineup, batting third and playing the three-spot on defense. With Miguel Andújar on the injured list with a wrist sprain, Tim Locastro makes his fifth start in pinstripes and his fourth in left field. Once again, with Cole on the mound, his personal catcher Kyle Higashioka gets the start, leaving Gary Sánchez on the bench. Regarding that decision, I’d like to quote Donald Glover’s Lando Calrissian: “I don’t like it. I don’t agree with it. But I accept it.”

Also of note — the Yankees’ bullpen will be without Jonathan Loaisiga, as he was also put on the IL due to COVID-19 healthy and safety protocols. He’s feeling fine, so that’s good news for him at the very least, though the Yankees’ relief corps will probably miss him tonight.

How to watch

Location: Minute Maid Park — Houston, TX

First pitch: 7:15 pm ET

TV broadcast: FOX

Radio broadcast: WFAN 660/101.9 FM, WADO 1280

Online stream: MLB.tv

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