The Yankees faced a serious a challenge in Game 1 of the 2022 American League Championship Series in Houston, as likely Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander squared off with New York’s No. 4 starter, Jameson Taillon. Despite the mismatch, the Yankees’ lineup had their chances early against Verlander while Taillon kept them in the game. But they ultimately came up with only two solo homers, and that wasn’t enough. They’ll have to do better in Game 2 to avoid traveling to the Bronx in a 2-0 hole.
Tonight, the Yankees will face Astros southpaw Framber Valdez, with first pitch coming on TBS at 7:37 pm ET. None of the Houston starters are actually going to be easy to hit, and Valdez had his first All-Star season in 2022 by posting a 2.82 ERA, 3.06 FIP, and 4.4 fWAR in 31 starts. He doesn’t give up many homers either, so he’ll be a tough customer.
Here’s the lineup that Aaron Boone will deploy against Valdez tonight:
This is definitely a bit of shake-up to try to get things going, as even during the Yankees’ ALDS victory over Cleveland, they had just a .643 OPS in 154 at-bats. They’ve scored runs but haven’t really exploded in any game just yet. Perhaps this will be the lineup that gets them going.
The most notable addition is rookie Oswald Peraza in at shortstop over Isiah Kiner-Falefa. The incumbent had started ALCS Game 1 after sitting during the final two elimination games against the Guardians, but Peraza’s going to get a shot in his first career playoff start (he off the roster in the DS and only pinch-ran last night). Oswaldo Cabrera is also back in after taking a seat yesterday to get both Giancarlo Stanton and Matt Carpenter in there. Stanton moves back to DH from left, and Carpenter rides the bench — partially because he’s looked rusty in his first playing time off the 60-day IL and partially because Valdez dominates lefties.
Although Harrison Bader has been a consistent starter, this will be his first time hitting leadoff for the Yankees. He paces the team with four playoff homers in their six games. The switch puts Gleyber Torres fifth, where he provides more hope than Josh Donaldson, who has looked awful for a week. The third baseman is still in there for his glovework, but he’s down in the six-hole. Kyle Higashioka will catch Luis Severino tonight, as he’s had success with him since rejoining the team and Jose Trevino hasn’t been hitting anyway.
Will this starting nine be enough to scratch out enough runs in support of Severino and tie this series up? We can only hope so.
Let’s go Yankees.