New York Yankees vs. Houston Astros
It didn’t look too hard for the Yankees to eliminate the Minnesota Twins. 10-4, 8-2 and 5-1 were the final scores in the Yankees sweep. Didi Gregorius and Gleyber Torres both hit over .400 for the series and should continue their hot streak into the ALCS. With that kind of run support the pitching staff hardly had any pressure on them. The only starter to pitch at least 5 innings was Masahiro Tanaka. Five relievers didn’t give up a single run in at least one inning of work. All of this sounds good in a 5-game series, but going into a tougher matchup in Houston who can match you run for run and shut you down from the mound poses a different challenge. Aaron Judge was solid in the ALDS, but will have to be better. Giancarlo Stanton wasn’t needed against the Twins, but his bat must come alive against the Astros.
Houston made it interesting against the Rays losing two in Tampa Bay, but they are extremely lucky to have Gerrit Cole who struck out 25 batters for two starts in the ALDS. Justin Verlander wasn’t himself in Game 4 and Zack Greinke was rocked for Game 3. Both will have to be better in the ALCS. Their bullpen was okay, but they can’t afford to keep allowing batters to get on base like they did against Tampa Bay. Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve batted .350 or better in the ALDS with Altuve providing 3 home runs in the process. This lineup didn’t perform like it should have, but that’s not to say they won’t come alive against a Yankees team whose primary weakness was in the pitching staff.
Yankees in 7 games
Washington Nationals vs. St. Louis Cardinals
I’m pretty sure no one had the Nationals at this spot at the beginning of the year let alone in the Postseason. The obvious would be the free agent loss of Bryce Harper, but this team was still good nonetheless. They took care of business against the Los Angeles Dodgers being down 2-1 in the series. We probably won’t forget Howie Kendrick’s grand slam in Game 5 any time soon. Nor should we forget how good Anthony Rendon is with his .350 average and 5 RBI from the NLDS. Juan Soto is quickly letting Nationals’ fans forget about Harper with his Postseason performance. He added two home runs and 6 RBI against the Dodgers. Their bullpen is still a weak spot for them, but they are maximizing it with bringing Stephen Strasburg, Max Scherzer and Patrick Corbin as relief options during the NLDS. That will probably change with a longer series, but it could come into play again.
Like their opponent, the Cardinals were down 2-1 in their series with the Atlanta Braves. They didn’t let it come down to the wire in Game 5 with a blowout victory. Their pitching has been spectacular and with the four starters they have in Jack Flaherty, Miles Mikolas, Adam Wainwright and Dakota Hudson, they will be tough to score runs on. St. Louis’ lineup came to life against Atlanta with Paul Goldschmidt and Marcell Ozuna each hitting .429 with 4 home runs and 7 RBI combined in the NLDS. Tommy Edman is quickly becoming a household name with his performance this year on offense and defense. Yadier Molina, while struggling at the plate, still managed to be the hero in Game 4. His skillset behind the plate is unmatched and is a big reason why the pitching is so good.
Cardinals in 7 games