ALCS Preview: Houston Astros Vs. New York Yankees

The Yankees are built for the future thanks to young stars like Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez

Unlike the pitcher, manager A.J. Hinch didn't shy away from singing Keuchel's praises for his work against the Yankees. "Let's go Yanks!" another fan said.

The Astros have only played four games in the ALDS, so far only one pitcher has gotten a quality start. It might be surprising to discover that Judge was not only the least clutch player in Major League Baseball, but the least clutch player in Major League Baseball going back to 1974. After recording two hits, including a two-run homer, in the wild-card victory over the Minnesota Twins, the rookie slugger went 1-for-20 with a playoff series-record 16 strikeouts in the division series against the Cleveland Indians.

"It's a complete lineup throughout", Yankees Manager Joe Girardi said of the Astros.

Home-field advantage is an obvious factor the Astros would glean from a Yankees win.

Davis posted a 1-3 mark with an 8.63 ERA in six starts and one relief appearance this season.

The stakes: The Yankees haven't played in the ALCS since 2012, an eternity when measured in Steinbrenner Years. And when they meet in the American League Championship Series, beginning Friday night at Minute Maid Park, it may be the most extreme collision of power versus power the sport has ever seen.

Beltran, the 40-year-old designated hitter in his 20th big league season, admits that he was a bit surprised at how quickly the youngsters developed.

At 6-foot-7 and almost 300 pounds, it is not easy for Yankees rookie right fielder Aaron Judge to hide, but that is what he was able to do against the Cleveland Indians in the American League Division Series. Look for Houston to win the series opener easily by at least two runs. Of course, we still have a serious World Series drought in the mix, as the Astros have yet to win one in their 55 years of existence, giving them the third longest drought in the Major League Baseball. Lastly, two of the 4.2 innings that the Astros' bullpen was called on to pitch on Monday were handled by Justin Verlander - a starting pitcher.

One key stat to know: There's no effective way to pitch Altuve, which is why he rates as the AL MVP frontrunner.

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The Yankees begin that challenge Friday night with the start of the ALCS after rallying from an 0-2 deficit against the heavily favored Indians.

In 341 regular-season at-bats that ended before the pitcher got to two strikes against him, Altuve batted.446 with a.739 slugging percentage.

The matchup that matters most: It's the postseason, so the bullpens will be a series-long storyline. The exceptionally talented Yankees bullpen has been stretched out in these playoffs.

Game 1, though, will hinge on whether the Yankees are finally able to hit Keuchel, who has been harder for them to figure out than a Rubik's Cube.

Tanaka had an inconsistent September that included two starts where he gave up seven earned runs and was capped by one where he struck out 15 in seven scoreless innings before he pitched the Yankees to a 1-0 win in Game 3 against the Indians. Yankees hitters are 19-for-103 (.184) with four walks and 35 strikeouts against him.

"It is about the Astros versus the Yankees", Judge said. "But I think it's just a coincidence that my command and location have been better than what it usually is against them". The young Yankees are not supposed to be here, although their confidence should be at an all-time high after taking out the Indians.

The victory put the Cubs up 2-1 in the best-of-five series with a chance to close it out at Wrigley Field on Tuesday.

He built off that in his first start this postseason when he yielded three hits and a run in 5 2/3 innings to help Houston to an 8-2 win over the Red Sox in Game 2 of the ALDS.

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