Justin Verlander makes his Astros debut (for the second time) against the Yankees on Saturday afternoon in New York. The Astros are the betting favorites with -136 moneyline at FanDuel, while the Yankees’ odds are at +116. The over/under is set at 8.5 runs with -108 odds on the over and -112 on the under. The prediction here is that the Astros win and the under hits.
Astros vs. Yankees Prediction
Starting pitchers: RHP Justin Verlander (6-5, 3.15 ERA) vs. LHP Nestor Cortes (5-2, 5.16 ERA)
It’s like he never left.
After a short stint with the Mets, Justin Verlander is back with the franchise with whom he won two World Series and two Cy Young awards over the last five years. He was only gone for eight months.
Just like old times. pic.twitter.com/L2jeC2YlSB
— Houston Astros (@astros) August 3, 2023
Verlander’s first start with his “new” team comes against a club he just faced less than two weeks ago. On July 25 Verlander pitched 6 scoreless innings against the Yankees and yielded just 2 hits and 4 walks while fanning 6 batters.
It was part of a resurgent July for the 40-year-old righty. After starting the season on the IL, Verlander struggled (by his standards) over his first 9 starts of the season. But in July he posted a 1.69 ERA and 1.02 WHIP with a 2-to-1 K/BB ratio, re-establishing himself as one of the preeminent pitchers in the game.
The Yankees have struggled against Verlander this season. In addition to that July 25 start, Verlander also pitched against them on June 14 and allowed just 1 earned run on 3 hits over six innings while striking out six. So over his 2 starts that’s a 0.75 ERA, a 0.75 WHIP and a 3-to-1 K/BB ratio.
The Yankees’ righty-heavy lineup has struggled against right-handed pitching all season. Against lefties they have a 108 wRC+ (10th) and are hitting.239/.320/.436 but against righties they have a 91 wRC+ (22nd) and are slashing .228/.298/.395. That doesn’t bode well for their offense today, even with Aaron Judge back in the lineup.
The Yankees also have a familiar face returning to the mound for them, albeit for different reasons. Nestor Cortes last pitched on May 30 and has been on the IL with a left rotator cuff strain. After back-to-back season with a sub-3.00 ERA, Cortes had a 5.16 mark when he went on the IL.
Houston gets the better side of their splits in this matchup. They have been better against lefties all season, but especially over the last month. Since July 1, they are slashing .289/.339/.494 against lefties with a 130 wRC+ (4th).
The Astros have the advantage on the mound and at the plate, not to mention any emotional edge they might get from Verlander’s return. Count on the favorites at -136 on the moneyline, and if you expect Verlander to dominate as I do, then take the under on 8.5 runs at -112 odds.
Astros vs. Yankees Prediction: Astros moneyline (-136), under 8.5 (-112)
Note: all metrics above taken before Friday’s games
Astros vs. Yankees Odds
The Astros are the betting favorites at -136 on the moneyline, while the Yankees’ odds are at +116.
The Astros are laying -1.5 runs on the spread at +122 odds, while the Yankees are getting +1.5 at -146 odds.
The over/under is set at 8.5 runs with -108 odds on the over and -112 on the under.
Astros vs. Yankees Key Matchups
Here are the key matchups that could decide Astros vs. Yankees.
Justin Verlander vs. middle of Yankees’ lineup
Verlander’s dominance against the Yankees is the main reason for the Astros moneyline pick in our Astros vs. Yankees prediction. Not only have the Yankees struggled against Verlander and against righties in general this season, but their two biggest power bats have been shut down by Verlander throughout their careers.
Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton are a combined 4-for-30 (.133) lifetime against Verlander, though three of those 4 hits have left the park. If Verlander can keep both of those big bats quiet, then he should have no problems with the rest of their lineup.
The only Yankees hitter that has had success against Verlander is DJ LeMahieu, who is 6-for-20 (.300) lifetime against the future Hall of Famer.
The one area where the Yankees have an edge over the reigning World Series champs is in the bullpen. They lead the league with a 3.06 bullpen ERA, 0.50 better than the next best team (Seattle). They have also been excellent based on advanced metrics with a 3.92 FIP (6th).
The Yankees get the edge here, but Houston is also strong out of the ‘pen, with a 3.80 ERA (11th) and 4.07 FIP (14th).
Both teams’ bullpen ERAs have climbed a bit over the last month. Since July 1 the Yankees’ relief staff has 3.76 ERA while the Astros have posted a 4.41 mark. Both are still in the top half of the league, but it does raise the possibility of some late-inning runs impacting this game – and potentially swinging the over/under.
Astros vs. Yankees Starting Lineups (Projected)
Astros Starting Lineup
2B Jose Altuve (R)
SS Jeremy Pena (R)
RF Kyle Tucker (L)
3B Alex Bregman (R)
DH Yordan Alvarez (L)
1B Jose Abreu (R)
CF Chas McCormick (R)
LF Corey Julks (R)
C Martin Maldonado (R)
Yankees Starting Lineup
2B Gleyber Torres (R)
RF Aaron Judge (R)
DH Giancarlo Stanton (R)
LF Billy McKinney (L)
3B DJ LeMahieu (R)
1B Jake Bauers (L)
CF Harrison Bader (R)
SS Anthony Volpe (R)
C Kyle Higashioka (R)