Surging Yankees will give favored Astros tough battle

Houston Astros starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel delivers a pitch against the Boston Red Sox during the first inning in Game 2 of baseball's American League Division Series Friday Oct. 6 2017 in Houston

This bullpen gives them a distinct advantage late in the game, as the Astros' mediocre relief pitching put them 17th in Major League Baseball with a 4.17 ERA, and they followed that up with 10 runs allowed over 16.1 innings in their ALDS matchup with the Boston Red Sox.

Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorious homered twice in the series clinching victory, as the Yanks chased Indians ace Corey Kluber early in the game and never looked back. Pictured: Didi Gregorius celebrates as he runs the bases after hitting a solo home run against the Cleveland Indians in Game 5 of the American League Divisional Series at Progressive Field on October 11, 2017 in Cleveland. After the tense five games in the ALDS, I'm not sure NY is going to come out firing here. Had Cleveland beaten the Yankees, the Indians would have had the home-field advantage from owning the best record in baseball. After losing the first two games at Minute Maid Park by 8-2 scores, Boston's offense came alive with home runs by rookie third baseman Rafael Devers and outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. Aaron Judge had one hit, a huge two-run double in Game 4, in the ALDS and set a record for most strikeouts in a postseason series with 16. But the lineup of the Astros is a minefield to navigate through and it's hard to see them being slowed down for an entire series as Boston found out very quickly. The Astros beat the Boston Red Sox in four games in the other ALDS. Being able to use David Robertson, Tommy Kahnle, and Aroldis Chapman across multiple innings kept the Yankees in their ALDS matchup. It's what happened in the wild-card game, as well as Game 5 of the ALDS.

Houston's bullpen ranked 10th in the AL with a 4.27 ERA. The Yankees can wear down starters and get into the bullpen like no other team.

The Astros boast some big hitters this year.

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Dallas Keuchel will pitch Game 1 and Verlander Game 2 for the Astros.

The Yankees can set up their rotation to succeed in the ALCS. Ken Giles and Luke Gregerson are good pitchers, as are Joe Musgrove and Lance McCullers, Jr., but they're not quite up to the level of performance that NY can expect every night. Masahiro Tanaka has been unhittable at Yankee Stadium, allowing six earned runs in 49 innings over his last seven home starts. For Houston, it is the relentless, energetic 5-6 Jose Altuve; for the Bronx Bombers, it's the towering power of 6-7 Aaron Judge. If Judge comes out of his slump, the Yankees will be even more unsafe.

It's anybody's series, but the Yankees have what it takes to pull off the upset.

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