On a day where neither team really wanted to play, the rain came in and washed the game away. Last night’s game four of the American League Championship was rained out, and likely it was for the better for just about everybody involved. Both teams were starting guys that they didn’t really want to start in a game that mattered so much.
Houston was going to go with rookie Jose Urquidy, followed up by what was likely to be five or six innings of the bullpen. And New York responded with a similar move as they were going to go with veteran JA Happ for a couple of innings before turning things over to their bullpen. But with the rain, comes an extra day of rest and now we have a game four with both teams more rested and with legit starters on the mound.
The only problem is that now with the rain out, these teams are going to have to finish out the series by playing four games in four days. To me, that makes the Astros the favorites later in the series, as they have starters that are going to be able to pitch deep into games. We have already seen that New York is going to go to their elite bullpen early and often and having to play on four consecutive nights could put major strain on the pen. That makes tonight’s game four that much more important for New York.
Starting for the Yankees tonight is Masahiro Tanaka (11-9 4.45 ERA) and for the Astros is it Zack Greinke (18-5 2.93 ERA). The game total over-under is set at eight and a half runs. The Yankees are -125 home favorites. First pitch is scheduled for 7:08 PM PST from Yankee Stadium in New York City.
Masahiro Tanaka has been great in this postseason for New York. With James Paxton struggling, and Luis Severino trying to figure things out after missing most of the regular season, the Yankees have needed Tanaka to be the ace of this staff, and he has come through big time. Tanaka is 2-0 with a 0.82 ERA in two playoff starts for New York this year. Against Houston in game one, Tanaka was nearly unhittable as he pitched six innings and did not allow a run on just one hit.
And when you look at his history of pitching in the playoffs, he always seems to have success pitching in the clutch. In seven playoff starts, Tanaka has an ERA of just 1.32. And surprisingly enough, four of those starts have come against these Astros. So, it hasn’t really been all that shocking to see him have success in this series, and I would expect that he is good again tonight. The Yankees are hoping to get five or six innings out of Tanaka tonight, but they would love to be able to stretch that out a little bit and rest this weary bullpen.
Zack Greinke has made two starts in the postseason this year for Houston and I have bet against him both times. Its not that I am a Greinke hater, it is just that he has been very inconsistent in his time with Houston. While he has mostly been good, he has had some struggles as well, and the books were pricing him like he was Gerrit Cole or Justin Verlander. At one point in his career, I would put him on that level, but right now, I don’t.
Those two bets I made against Greinke? I won them both as he has had a really rough start to the playoffs this year. In his first postseason start, he got blasted by the Tampa Bay Rays for six earned runs in just three and two thirds of an inning pitched. In game one against New York, he was better as he pitched six innings and allowed three runs, but he was outpitched by Tanaka, and he was charged with his second consecutive loss. The Astros have lost Greinke’s two starts by a combined score of 17-3. Ouch.
We saw this same starting pitching matchup in game one, and the Yankees won the game fairly easily. And I don’t see a compelling reason that they won’t repeat that performance here tonight. That game was in Houston, this one is coming in New York, and I am fairly surprised to see the number as such a tight one, after we just saw this one play out a couple of days ago.
I think Tanaka is good again, and I actually think Greinke will be decent as well. He is just too good of a pitcher to struggle for much longer, and it wouldn’t shock me if he finds a way to have a nice night. But in the end, I just can’t pass up on backing the Yankees at home at such a reasonable price. I still think the Astros are going to find a way to win this series, but I think it goes the full seven games. And that means New York has to find a way to win tonight.
The one thing we didn’t talk about with this extra rest day was the health of Giancarlo Stanton. Stanton has epic power and missed both games two and three with a sore leg. He was allegedly available to pinch hit last night, and I think with the extra day of rest tonight, he will either be able to play the entire game, or at a minimum pinch hit late in the game. I am not going to say the rain gifted this game to New York, but it certainly seems to help them more than it does Houston. Give me the New York Yankees as small home favorites tonight in game three from Yankee Stadium.