The New York Yankees took home-field advantage from the Houston Astros in game 1 of the 2019 American League Championship Series with a 7-0 victory at Minute Maid Park. After a marathon 11-inning victory in Game 2, Houston is in a prime position to take 2-1 series lead.
Gerrit Cole takes the ball for the Astros Tuesday afternoon in Game 3 at Yankee Stadium. That means Luis Severino and New York’s bullpen might have to be nearly perfect in order for New York to win at home.
Cole isn’t simply the favorite to win the 2019 AL Cy Young award. Few pitchers, if any, in the last decade have been this dominant going into the ALCS.
Ths Astros haven’t lost a game started by Cole since July 12. Cole himself last took a loss all the way back on May 22.
Including the playoffs, Houston has won 15 consecutive Cole starts. The right-hander has surrendered more than two runs once during that span. He had a 1.07 ERA in six September starts and has followed that up with an even more dominant postseason.
Cole was virtually unhittable in Game 2 of the ALDS against the Tampa Bay Rays, pitching 7.2 shutout innings, allowing five runners to reach base and striking out 15 batters. Tampa Bay scored 14 runs over the next two games, but they were back to being lost at the plate in a deciding Game 5 when Cole surrendered one run and four baserunners over eight innings to send Houston to the next round.
Cole has struck out at least 10 batters in 11 consecutive starts. The Yankees have struck out 23 times in 20 innings this series.
The Yankees faced Cole once this season, putting up three runs in seven innings against the 29-year-old on April 9. With the way Cole has performed over the last few months, New York might be thrilled to score three runs off the pitcher in Game 3.
The hitters on New York’s ALCS roster have hit .215/.282/.354 in 65 career at-bats against Cole. DJ LeMahieu, Aaron Judge, Gleyber Torres and Edwin Encarnacion—the top four hitters in the Yankees’ lineup in Game 1 and Game 2—are a combined 3-31 off Houston’s starter.
For all those reasons, Houston is -155 road favorite in Game 3, according to the betting line at OddsShark. New York is a +145 underdog at home. The over/under is 7.5.
The Yankees will have to match zeros with Cole in order to pull off the upset. New York has the arms to potentially do so. The formula nearly worked in Game 2 when Justin Verlander gave up two runs in 6.2 innings. New York’s bullpen pitched 7.2 innings of one-run ball before Carlos Correa’s extra-inning home run ended the game.
Severino pitched four scoreless innings in his one ALDS start. With just 16 total innings of work on the year for Severino, the Yankees can’t ask for much more than that Tuesday.
Houston is very familiar with Severino. Jose Altuve has four hits in 13 career at-bats against the right-hander. George Springer and Alex Bregman are a combined 2-19 off Severino.
Odds are that Houston’s lineup with put together at least one or two good innings against Severino and the multiple relievers that are bound to come out up New York’s bullpen. That should be enough for the Astros to steal a road win when they have the best pitcher for the 2019 MLB season on the mound.
Game 3 Prediction: Houston over New York, 3-1