New York Yankees vs. Houston Astros
They were on the brink of being eliminated in 4 games by the Cleveland Guardians in the Division Series. Thanks in large part to Gerrit Cole who pitched 7 innings for the Yankees in Game 4 that was avoided. Cole struck out 16 batters in his two starts for the series with a 2.03 ERA thus earning his salary. Nestor Cortes in his two starts had a 2.70 ERA and Clay Holmes didn’t allow a run out of the bullpen in his 4 appearances. The bats were alive and well with Giancarlo Stanton leading the way with 6 RBI and half of those coming from a 3-run HR in Game 5. Anthony Rizzo batted .294 with 4 RBI and Harrison Bader had 3 home runs and batted a respectable .267. Aaron Judge didn’t have a great series, but his presence was felt with him getting 2 home runs. If New York wants to return to the World Series, their pitching staff will need to be near perfect the rest of the way.
For the sixth consecutive season the Houston Astros have gotten to the ALCS. They’ve appeared in three World Series in that span and are hoping to make it a fourth time. Their pitching was off the charts in their 3-game sweep of the Seattle Mariners. Justin Verlander was not sharp in his lone start, but didn’t get the loss. He’ll have to be better going forward. Framber Valdez and Lance McCullers were solid in their starts. The bullpen allowed only one run in the 3 game series. This included an 18-inning finale in Game 3. Luis Garcia, who was a starter during the season, pitched a 5-inning gem in that 18-inning affair getting the victory with 6 strikeouts and allowing only 2 hits. Bryan Abreu and Rafael Montero combined to strikeout 9 batters in the three games they both appeared in. Ryan Pressly saved one game, Hector Neris and Hunter Brown made contributions in two appearances apiece. Yordan Alvarez drove in 7 runs for the Division Series and that included a walk-off blast in Game 1. Yuli Gurriel batted .400 for the series and Alex Bregman drove in 3 runs. Jeremy Pena hit the game winning home run in the 18th inning of Game 3. One glaring omission is Jose Altuve who didn’t get a single hit in his 16 at-bats. If the Astros pitching staff continues this trend and Altuve’s bat wakes up, Houston will be tough to beat.
Astros in 6 games
Philadelphia Phillies vs. San Diego Padres
It seemed to be fast and furious what the Phillies did to their division rival the Atlanta Braves in the Division Series. It wasn’t a 3-game sweep, but the Phillies made it look easy in ousting the defending champs. Their bullpen had a large part to do with that. Seranthony Dominguez, Brad Hand and Jose Alvarado combined to give up only one run while striking out 14 batters and walking none. Aaron Nola continued his solid Postseason with a 6-inning, 6 strikeout victory in his lone start of the series. Zack Wheeler got the loss in their only defeat, but pitched well and will need to continue that trend in the NLCS. Philadelphia’s strength is in their lineup and they scored plenty of runs to account for any possible pitching problems. Bryce Harper led the way with a .500 batting average along with 5 RBI. Jean Segura had a .462 batting average and Nick Castellanos drove in 5 runs to add to their lineup’s prowess. If the lineup continues to score at this pace they will be tough to beat.
San Diego finally defeated their division rival the Los Angeles Dodgers and did so at the most opportune time. Their pitching staff had a large part in their 4-game series victory. Yu Darvish, Blake Snell and Joe Musgrove pitched well and must continue to perform at this level to get to the World Series. Their bullpen was lights out in their three wins with Nick Martinez, Robert Suarez and Josh Hader not allowing a single run. Hader earned a save in the three wins as well solidifying himself as one of the best closers in baseball. Manny Machado continue his MVP trek for the Padres batting .357 and driving in 2 runs. Jake Cronenworth made his presence felt by driving in 5 runs and batting .438 in the Division Series. Juan Soto didn’t have a great series overall, but he had a hand in their Game 4 comeback win in that 7th inning driving in an important run. For the Padres sake they shouldn’t rest on the fact that they eliminated the Dodgers. They are good enough to get to the World Series as well.
Phillies in 7 games