The Yankees’ youth movement will be on full display this weekend against the Astros. Prospects Jasson Domínguez and Austin Wells will get their first crack at the big leagues, sparking extra interest in a Yankees team that has had few positives in recent months. What was likely thought of at the beginning of the season as a pivotal series for playoff positioning has turned into a prospect showcase for the Yankees with Everson Pereira and Oswald Peraza in the mix as well.
While the Yankees get an early glimpse of the future, the Astros are fully immersed in the present. Houston is in a dogfight for the AL West lead and is currently tied with the Mariners for the top spot, though the Rangers are just a game behind. Houston has won five consecutive games while scoring 52 runs over that span. Even though they haven’t held sole possession of first for a single day yet in 2023, the most likely outcome still feels like Houston’s sixth AL West crown in seven years.
It will be youth vs. an established power in a matchup that will garner intrigue from both fanbases this weekend.
Friday: Carlos Rodón vs. Justin Verlander (8:10 pm ET)
The last time Carlos Rodón faced the Astros, he got roughed up for five runs over 2.2 innings. That outing was typical for what has been a tough season for the left-hander following his extended stay on the IL. The long ball continues to plague Rodón, who has given up 10 home runs in just 8 appearances on the 2023 campaign. Despite his struggles, Rodón’s last two starts have been encouraging. He followed a six-inning, one-run performance against the Nationals by notching seven strikeouts in just 4.2 innings against the Rays. The Yankees would love for Rodón to finish the season with positive momentum heading into 2024.
You already know the other guy. After giving up nine hits and five runs against Miami, Verlander produced back-to-back stellar outings against Boston and Detroit. Verlander has a 2.79 ERA since rejoining the Astros, including a seven-inning, two-run performance against the Yankees back on August 5th. He has provided the type of stability the Astros expected when they reacquired the reigning Cy Young Award winner at the Trade Deadline.
Saturday: Luis Severino vs. Hunter Brown (7:10 pm ET)
Is Luis Severino back? Just in time for the stretch run (I wish I wasn’t kidding), Sevy put together back-to-back quality starts against the Nationals and Tigers. The right-hander gave up no runs through at least six innings in both starts, something Sevy had only done one other time this season. A true test will come at the hands of a strong Astros offense that is currently on a tear.
Hunter Brown has gone through the ups and downs you would expect from a rookie starting pitcher In the big leagues. Brown followed a six-run shellacking against Seattle with a solid five-inning, two-run game against Detroit. Like Verlander, Brown also faced the Yankees in early August, giving up two runs over six innings of work. It will be interesting to see which iteration of these starters will show up on Saturday.
Sunday: Michael King vs. Cristian Javier (7:10 pm ET)
The Yankees are in the business of providing opportunities to players given their current placement in the standings. Giving Michael King a chance to be a starter for the remainder of the season is one of those opportunities. Last Tuesday, he was stretched out to 61 pitches, providing four scoreless innings in a win against Detroit, so a jump to at least 70 would seem to be in line next with Jhony Brito piggybacking. King’s starts will be a source of intrigue as the Yankees continue to look towards filling out the rotation for next year.
The struggles of Cristian Javier have been well-documented in 2023. His 4.66 ERA is a stark contrast from his breakout 2022 campaign, which included the bulk of the no-hit work on June 25th at Yankee Stadium and in Game 4 of the World Series. Javier’s last start against Boston was a microcosm of his season: six hits, four runs, and six walks in just four innings of work. Unless a miraculous turnaround occurs in September, you have to wonder if Javier has pitched himself out of a playoff rotation spot. A possible move to the bullpen is not out of the question if the struggles continue for the right-hander.