Special Saturday Discussion - Yankees vs Astros Predictions

Our writers share their thoughts on the Yankees vs Astros American League Championship Series :

Mike Whiteman: In an epic, exhausting, series, the Yankees will win the ALCS in seven games.

Lincoln Mitchell: This is a tough one. I have made bold baseball predictions in the past that came true. When I was ten in the summer and fall 1978, I promised everybody I knew that the Yankees would win the AL East. In 2010, I predicted the Giants would beat the heavily favored Phillies in the NLCS. Again in 2012, I predicted the Gains would beat the favored Tigers in the World Series. This ALCS feels like the real World Series as these are the two best teams in baseball and they have been on a collision course with each other since spring training. I will be yelling myself hoarse watching this series at the home of a dear friend who grew up in Brooklyn has been rooting for the Yankees since the days of Willie, Mickey and the Duke. However, I am saying Houston in six. I hope I am wrong and look forward to many of you pointing it out when I am. Go Yankees!

Phil Cashier: Well, my ALDS prediction wasn't accurate. I was using a new crystal ball and held it wrong. So here we go again;
(Shakes crystal ball)
Yankees win game 7 after losing 4 straight! -- No, no, that's not possible.
Let's try again -- (Shakes crystal ball)

The Yankees win the series 5 games to 2! -- No, no that's not possible.
(Throws crystal ball against the wall & breaks it)
Game 7 Urshela hits the home ahead HR in the top of the 8th. Britton gets the 1st out in the bottom of the 8th and then walks 2 straight. Chapman comes in for a 5 out save! Yankees win!!!!!!

Derek McAdam: Even though I took the Twins to beat the Yanks in five and was way off with this prediction, I am taking the Astros in seven. Yankees fans remember how this played out in the 2017 ALCS. The away team in that series was 0-7. However, I do believe that this trend will turn out to be a little bit different. I do believe that there will be the away team winning at least one game this series. But having home-field advantage for the Astros is crucial. If the Bombers want to take a big advantage in the series, take the very first game of the series. Chances are Zach Greinke will be starting, coming off a very rocky start against the Rays in Game 3. This also means that they took a game on the road, which is crucial during the playoffs. This is going to be a hard-fought battle between the two most complete teams in baseball.

Matthew Cohen - If I had to bet, I'd bet on the Astros. Cole and Verlander were the top 2 pitchers in the American League this year (measured by xFIP) and Cole has been on a remarkable tear of late. Zach Greinke is also an elite starter. The lineups are pretty close but Cole and Verlander definitely give the Astros the edge. On top of that, the Astros have home field advantage and both teams were much better at home this year.

Ethan Semendinger - The Yankees will win in five games. They will take Game 1 vs. Zack Grienke which will put them in the driver’s seat the rest of the way.

Frankie Mandile - Ultimately I think the two-headed monster of Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole will be too much for the Yankees to overcome. My ALCS prediction is that the Astros take the series 4 games to 2.

Paul Semendinger - The Astros scare me. They are just too too too good. But, that being said, as a Yankees fan, I have to have hope. There has been a sense about the 2019 that this just might be a team of destiny. There have been plenty of times when the Yankees could have folded - and yet they have always found ways to win. I think that will be the case again. I think this Yankees team isn’t one that feels that they are fortunate to be in the post season, they want to win. And win they will!!!

Patrick Gunn - This is incredibly close. In terms of offense, both teams are incredibly strong with OPSs above .800 (.829 for the Yankees and .848 for the Astros). This comes from both team's great power (both teams have a slugging percentage at or above .490) and patience (Houston leads the league in walks, the Yankees are eleventh). The one area where Houston towers over the Yankees comes in strikeouts: the Yankees are middle of the pack with 1,437 strikeouts, while Houston struck out the fewest times in the league this season with 1,166. With strikeout heavy teams, the ability for Houston to put the ball in play might be the key tipping point for the Astros.

In terms of pitching, both teams share an advantage point. The Yankees dwarf the Astros in bullpen WAR (7.5 for New York against 4.3 for Houston), but both teams have strong strikeout rates and low walk rates. I'd give the Yankees the edge due to their lower home run rate (1.3 for NY vs. 1.44 for Houston) and their deep back end (Chapman, Britton, Kahnle, Ottavino, and Green).

As for rotation, well, the Astros have Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole. Yes, Tanaka has had a great postseason career, but he doesn't compare to that pair. The Yankees have talent in their rotation with Paxton and Severino, but they can't match that pair, not to mention that the Astros have Zack Greinke as their third starter.

This is a relatively close series, so I'm going to pick the team that has home-field advantage. The Astros have been dominant in Minute Maid Park this year, and having home field advantage, along with four combined starts from Verlander and Cole, should give Houston a slight edge in this series. That being said, it's anyone's game with these two. This should be fun.