Astros should have the offence to hold off Yankees in ALDS

Los Angeles Dodgers celebrating a win

"They've got high-end velocity", Hinch said.

The Astros' expected Game 1 starter, Dallas Keuchel, has owned the Yankees in his career, though.

"I don't think anyone who goes through a season has a ideal season", Judge said. The clubs are far more evenly matched than it appears on the surface, with Houston having scored 38 more runs but NY having allowed 40 fewer.

Friday marks game one of the ALCS. It might be surprising to discover that Judge was not only the least clutch player in Major League Baseball, but the least clutch player in Major League Baseball going back to 1974.

Bellinger and Austin Barnes homered off Diamondbacks pitcher Zack Greinke while Japan's Darvish gave up one run and struck out seven in five-plus innings.

Beltran and McCann are now two of the old guys for another team with plenty of talented youth - the Astros. Surely, the Astros were taking notes.

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It is game day for the Houston Astros.

In Game 1, they will send righthander Masahiro Tanaka (13-12, 4.74 ERA) to the mound looking for his second win this postseason.

Girardi said he believes the strike zone was tight against Judge in the ALDS. The last time the Astros made it to a championship series was back in 2005, and that was before their 2013 switch over to the American League. But the arrow is pointing upward for both franchises, which are here in large part because of a core of young players that is controllable for the next few seasons. While the Yanks were embarking on their improbable comeback against the Indians, the Astros were at home eating popcorn. "And just because it's the Yankees, you kind of get a little more amped and a little more jittery because it's the pinstripes and such a storied organization".

Whether or not Houston "deserves" to win the series, of course, has nothing to do with what will actually happen. But with a 101-61 regular-season record in 2017, they won the AL West in Secretariat-like fashion - 21 games over the Anaheim Angels.

Tanaka's compatriot Yu Darvish, meanwhile, is scheduled to start either Game 2 or Game 3 for the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Championship Series.

One key stat to know: There's no effective way to pitch Altuve, which is why he rates as the AL MVP frontrunner. The Francona logic was that in the five-game format, with built-in travel days after Games 2 and 4, both Bauer and Kluber would be on regular rest in any Game 5. "But when I was behind the scenes and got to see these young guys play, perform and the way (Aaron) Judge came out this year, it's no surprise they're in the position they're in".

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The matchup that matters most: It's the postseason, so the bullpens will be a series-long storyline.

Game 1, though, will hinge on whether the Yankees are finally able to hit Keuchel, who has been harder for them to figure out than a Rubik's Cube. Rather than flying to Cleveland on Thursday ahead of Game 1 Friday, the Astros would host games 1 and 2 on Friday and Saturday before heading to NY for games 3, 4 and 5. Yankees hitters are 19-for-103 (.184) with four walks and 35 strikeouts against him.

By fWAR, the Astros' and Yankees' rotations clocked in at the exact same 15.2 on the season.

"I just couldn't get out of my head: 'I didn't think I'd be here". But that could also mean that they're ripe for a Game 1 letdown.

But after the 102-win Indians played more like the pre-August versions of themselves in their ALDS games 3 and 4 losses at Yankee Stadium on Sunday and Monday, picking favorites isn't as clear-cut as it appeared.

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