With the postseason almost in sight, every matchup carries a little more weight. That is doubly true for this clash between the Yankees and Astros, two squads who have run into each other time and time again over the past few years and always seem to have contentious clashes. Let’s take a look at the odds for this American League showdown, where my prediction is an Astros win and over 9 runs at -105 odds.
Astros Vs. Yankees Prediction
The history between the Yankees and Astros isn’t long, but it’s definitely intense. After Houston moved to the American League in 2013, the sides have met repeatedly in the postseason, starting with the 2015 Wild Card game, and then three ALCS matchups between 2017 and last year.
These series are always high-tension, but they’ve all gone the same way; Houston has won each time. The 2022 ALCS was an anomaly in the sense that the previous matchups were very competitive, while this time, Houston rolled through in 4 games.
Things are looking pretty similar in some ways, but there are also quite a few differences. The main consistency is that the Astros are a much better squad than the Yankees, no matter how you slice it. What’s changed is that they probably won’t meet in the postseason as the two top teams in the American League. Houston is a half game out of the lead in the AL West, and well behind the Orioles for the top seed, and the Yanks aren’t even in the playoff picture right now.
Thursday’s matchup features a pretty interesting starting pitching matchup. The ‘Stros are throwing Cristian Javier, who was absolutely fantastic last year in his first action as a full-time starter, but has fallen off a ton in 2023. He had a strong start to the year, before collapsing to the tune of a 5.79 ERA in June and 6.86 in July. He’s given up multiple runs in six consecutive starts, with the worst outing being an 8-run debacle against the Rangers.
On the other side of things, the Yankees are throwing Clarke Schmidt, who has not shown a ceiling like Javier’s, and started the year off dreadfully with a 6.84 ERA in April. Contrary to Javier’s season, however, Schmidt has stabilized in a big way and has been giving the Yankees much more consistently productive starts.
As much as Schmidt has improved as the year has gone on, he’s gone slightly cold, while Javier isn’t back to his best form, but his numbers have been a lot more reasonable over his past three starts compared to the previous three. I don’t necessarily want to bet on either of these guys right now, so I’m a big fan of the over here.
For the moneyline, I’m giving the nod to Houston. Even without a lot to separate the teams in terms of starting pitching, the New York bullpen is regressing, and the lineup is a total farce, a stark contrast to Houston’s much more effective unit.
Astros Vs. Yankees Prediction: Astros ML (-112), o9 runs (-105)
Astros Vs. Yankees Odds
Vegas sees this one as extremely close, with -112 odds for the Astros and -108 for the Yankees. For a total of 9 runs, the over is -105 and the under is set at -115.
Astros Vs. Yankees Key Matchups
Clarke Schmidt vs. Power Hitters
One thing Schmidt has struggled with as he has transitioned out of the bullpen into a full-time starting role has been keeping the ball in the park. He allowed just 0.8 home runs per 9 innings of work a year ago, a figure that is up to 1.4 this year. This Astros squad isn’t as explosive as ones of years past, but they’re still 10th in the league in homers so there are certainly guys who can tag Schmidt for a big fly.
Much like the Yankees, the Astros’ home run leaderboard is topped by a big-time slugger, despite the man in question missing a significant number of games this year. After crushing 37 long balls in somewhat-limited time last year, Yordan Álvarez is back at it again with a team-best 19 bombs in just 62 games. He’s closely followed by Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker, with 18 homers apiece. Tucker in particular is having a great year, hitting over .300 as well, good enough to earn his second All Star berth.
There’s a bit of a drop off to Yainier Díaz and Chas McCormick with 13 homers each, but both have played fewer than 70 games. Lastly, José Abreu and Jeremy Peña have disappointed to a degree with 10 homers each, but both are heating up to a degree. These hitters round out a deep Astros lineup, giving me plenty of confidence to pick Houston to hit the -112 moneyline in my Astros vs. Yankees prediction.
Cristian Javier vs. Hard-Ball Hitters
Javier’s home run numbers are also up, as are his hits per 9, which have climbed from a stellar 5.4 last year to 7.8 this time around. Conversely, his walks are down a bit. So, anyone who hits the ball well is going to be a problem for him, whether they generally find a gap, or put it out of the park.
Fortunately for Javier, the Yankees only have one hitter who’s really good at anything. Giancarlo Stanton does hit the ball hard, with a 97th percentile average exit velocity and a 100th percentile max, but overall, he’s hitting just .197. Obviously, Aaron Judge hits the ball incredibly hard and well, with the league’s best average exit velo, barrel percentage, and hard hit percentage, but he’s on a bit of an island in the lineup.
Outside of those two guys who mash the ball, the Yankees only have two semi-consistent contact bats in Gleyber Torres and Isaiah Kiner-Falefa, who are both hitting in the .250s. That being said, neither is really a guy who hits the ball particularly hard, and I’m not sure either is a candidate to have a huge day against Javier.
Astros Vs. Yankees Starting Lineups
Astros Starting Lineup
2B M. Dubón R
SS J. Peña R
RF K. Tucker L
3B A. Bregman R
LF Y. Álvarez L
1B J. Abreu R
CF C. McCormick R
C Y. Díaz R
DH C. Julks R
Yankees Starting Lineup
2B G. Torres R
DH A. Judge R
1B A. Rizzo L
RF G. Stanton R
3B D. LeMahieu R
LF I. Kiner-Falefa R
CF H. Bader R
SS A. Volpe R
C K. Higashioka R