Astros, Yankees Prepare for Yet Another Battle

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The Houston Astros are in the midst of another successful regular season. Despite an inconsistent offence, Houston has been one of the best teams in the league. They enter Wednesday at 42-25, giving them a ten-game lead in the AL West. This number is the second-best record in the AL. The Astros have been heating up as of late, winning six of their last eight games. Unfortunately for Houston, over the last week of June, they faced the hottest team in baseball five times. The only team in the AL with a higher winning percentage than the Astros is the New York Yankees (.735). The Yankees have been the hottest team in the AL all season, entering Wednesday with a 50-18 record. With these teams set to face off this week, let’s break down how the two stack up thus far.

Astros/Yankees Breakdown

Lineup Comparison

The Yankees and the Astros have been the best in the AL, and they have a lot of similarities. Both teams hit for a lot of power; the Yankees are first in the AL in home runs with 112, while the Astros are second with 90. Both are middle of the pack in terms of batting average; New York is hitting .247 while Houston is hitting .239. The biggest difference between the two is in runs scored. The Yankees are the best at scoring runs, scoring 348 entering Wednesday. The Astros are surprisingly middle of the pack. Their 289 runs are seventh in the AL. The Astros offence still has intimidating names in the lineup, but the results haven’t been the same as years past. Meanwhile, the Yankees have had the strongest offence in the league thus far. Aaron Judge and Yordan Alvarez will be leading their respective lineups into battle.

Pitching/Defense Comparison

From a pitching perspective, these teams are once again extremely similar. They rank one and two in team ERA in the AL, with the Yankees pitching to a 2.88 ERA and the Astros posting a 3.03 ERA. The difference is the way they get it done. Essentially, New York gets a lot of swings and misses, ranking first in strikeouts with 625, whereas Houston pitches more to contact. Their 564 strikeouts are seventh in the AL. The Astros can afford to pitch to contact because they have the best defence in the AL according to outs above average. The Yankees are tenth in the AL in that same statistic.

From the start of the season to now, the Yankees have been the best all-around team in the AL, while the Astros have been second. However, none of that matters entering the end of the month. Over the final week, these teams face each other five times. Here is a breakdown of this stretch.

June 23-26, Yankees at Yankee Stadium

The Astros and the Yankees will have another chance to add a new chapter to their rivalry beginning Thursday, June 23. These teams have plenty of hard feelings, and the Brian Cashman/Jim Crane exchange poured more fuel on the fire earlier in the year. The boo-birds will be deafening at Yankee Stadium in this series. The way things currently line up, Gerrit Cole would face his former team on Saturday. The Yankees have the lowest team ERA in the AL, and the Astros have the second-lowest. With how these pitching staffs have dominated, expect a low-scoring, hard-fought series.

June 30, Yankees at Minute Maid Park

As a result of the lockout, the games of the original Opening Week of the season were rescheduled throughout the year. Houston will return to Minute Maid to face the rival Yankees in a must-see, one-game matchup. As the rotations currently line up, the pitching matchup would be Cole vs Justin Verlander, a battle between the top two finishers in the 2019 Cy Young race.

The remainder of June for the Astros is as tough as it gets. However, this will be a great test to see where the Astros stack up against the league’s best team, the Yankees.

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Players Mentioned:

Aaron Judge, Yordan Alvarez, Gerrit Cole, Justin Verlander