Houston Astros vs New York Yankees (10/23/22) Starting Lineup, Betting Odds, Prediction

It’s yet another edition of Yankees vs. Astros in the playoffs, and while the intensity has been present as always, the level of competition is not the same. In what is usually a well-contested matchup, Houston is running away with this one as they enter Sunday’s game 4 with the opportunity to complete a fairly stunning sweep in the Bronx. The series may feel over, but there’s a lot of pride on the line- with all of the bad blood between these teams, the Yanks will surely be motivated to not get swept, and Aaron Boone must know at this point that he could very well be managing to keep his job. Let’s look at the odds and make some predictions as the Bronx Bombers try to stave off yet another postseason embarrassment in the Boone era.

Astros Vs. Yankees Betting Odds

The Yankees are a narrow favorite at home with their best pitcher, Nestor Cortes Jr., on the mound. Cortes has been awesome at home, and a sweep would be pretty unexpected from a lot of perspectives, so the number makes sense in a way. The run line is a bit more puzzlingly set at 6.5, considering each starting pitcher’s track record against his opponent, and the lack of offense in this series, particularly from the Yankees lineup (4 runs across 3 games and a team batting average below .200)

Astros Vs. Yankees Picks & Prediction

After escaping the Mariners in what many have been colloquially referring to as “the closest sweep of all time”, Houston is up 3-0 once again, and at least 2 of the 3 games were very competitive, and certainly not decided until the last pitch. Even so, as close as things have been the Yankees have not felt like a threat at many times in this series, having led for less than an inning total, courtesy of another blast from pleasant postseason surprise Harrison Bader. The less pleasant surprise from New York’s perspective has been the utter coldness of the rest of their bats, outside of Anthony Rizzo. Aaron Judge has struggled immensely, Giancarlo Stanton has had his moments but been cold more than hot, Gleyber Torres and Oswaldo Cabrera have failed to carry over any of the momentum from their elite Septembers, and it’s been a small sample size to be sure but Matt Carpenter’s return from injury has been far from Charmed.

The Houston lineup has not been its usual prolific self- Jose Altuve was stuck in an 0-28 slump to start the postseason before doubling on Saturday- but they’ve been opportunistic and have had contributions from unlikely heroes, such as 9-spot hitter Chas McCormick who has racked up two homers in this series already. The arms have been the much bigger story, starting with the starting pitchers who have stymied the Yanks so far. The legendary Justin Verlander was just about his usual self in game 1, Framber Valdez was lockdown for the most part in game 2, and then on Saturday Cristian Javier continued his Yankee Stadium dominance. The bullpen, anchored by closer Ryan Pressly, has also done its job, securing a couple of close finishes and then the game-3 laugher

The bottom line is that any Championship or World Series game past #4 is always listed as “if necessary” on official schedules, and this series is a reminder why; the Astros will show how big that “if” is, and end the Yankees’ season, abruptly sending them into their offseason, perhaps prematurely from their perspective, with infinite questions to answer. There’s not much of a reason to mess around with props; I expect Cortes and McCullers to both be excellent, but the Yankees lineup has shown absolutely no signs of life against Houston by just about any metric, so the Astros ML (+105) and u6.5 runs (+100) are my comfortable picks in this one.

Astros Starting Lineup

2B J. Altuve R
SS J. Pena R
LF Y. Alvarez L
3B A. Bregman R
RF K. Tucker L
1B Y. Gurriel R
DH T. Mancini R
CF C. McCormick R
C M. Maldonado R

Astros Vs. Nestor Cortes Jr.

Former 36th-round pick Nestor Cortes Jr. has been one of baseball’s best stories all year long, showcasing a funky and varied release, tons of command, and nasty stuff en route to excellent numbers and an All Star Game appearance. He also helped to rescue the Yankees season in game 5 against the Guardians, slinging 5 gutsy 1-run innings and was pulled after just 61 pitches in yet another inconceivable and completely unjustifiable decision by Aaron Boone. Cortes, a lefty, has absolutely owned left-handed hitting this year, limiting them to a laughable .110 batting average and .338 OPS. Houston’s best hitter, Yordan Alvarez is a lefty, and has had fine platoon splits, but his power does go down against left-handers. The rest of Houston’s best bats, namely Altuve, Alex Bregman, and their latest young star, shortstop Jeremy Peña, are all righties, and will give Cortes a tough at-bat each time through the lineup.

Yankees Starting Lineup

2B DJ LeMahieu R
RF A. Judge R
1B A. Rizzo L
3B J. Donaldson R
DH G. Stanton R
LF O. Cabrera S
CF H. Bader R
SS I. Kiner-Falefa R
C J. Trevino R

Yankees Vs. Lance McCullers Jr.

McCullers is a veritable big-game pitcher. He only threw once in the Division Series against the Mariners, but naturally he tossed 6 shutout innings on the road. Back in 2017, in the memorable 7-game ALCS between these two teams, he threw 10 innings and allowed just a run on 3 hits- including 4 shutout innings as the opener in the decisive game 7. The hitters may have been cheating, but the pitchers weren’t aided- McCullers simply shut down New York’s potent bats. In his career, he’s undefeated across 5 regular season starts against the Yanks, and throws an ERA under 3 against them. If there’s any sort of silver lining for New York, it’s that McCullers is a lefty who has some pretty significant platoon splits, and the Bronx Bombers are almost comically right-handed, with the only everyday lefty bats being switch hitters, and Anthony Rizzo, who usually puts up either reverse splits, or no significant gap at all. If the big righty bats- historic MVP-in-waiting Aaron Judge and the imposing Giancarlo Stanton come to mind- are able to do what they usually do against lefties, they have a path to victory- but this has never before been the case in their meetings with McCullers.

From starting my own blog in Middle School, to working on a friend’s in college, and finally joining the Lineups team this year, I’ve been writing about sports for over a decade and betting on them as long as I’ve been legally able. I graduated from the University of Michigan last year, where I took sports journalism classes alongside my business major. Having played and watched sports for almost my whole life, I aim to provide insight and entertainment, as well as profitable picks, in my writing about professional and collegiate leagues.

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