ALCS Game 1: Masahiro Tanaka to start for New York Yankees vs

Ross D. Franklin  AP

Ross D. Franklin AP

The top three starters in the Yankees rotation - Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia and Luis Severino - all came up huge against the Indians, with the veteran Sabathia pitching twice and providing unexpected impetus and inspiration. The Yankees' rotation was impressive against Cleveland after Sonny Gray's Game 1 flop. Certainly, there's some truth to that. "As long as I make my pitches, I think I'm going to fare well but there's always that mistake pitch that he hits out".

Albert Almora followed with a run-scoring single off of reliever Sammy Solis that tied the game at 1-1. "I don't think who the names are or who the jersey is, he knows he can get anybody out in the league". The clubs are far more evenly matched than it appears on the surface, with Houston having scored 38 more runs but NY having allowed 40 fewer. CC Sabathia will start Game 3 on Monday when the series moves to NY.

This all boils down to a very simple idea.

Speaking of the bullpen, we've seen just how important the bullpen has become so far this season (and will surely be a topic we revisit during the slog through the offseason), and this is the spot where the Yankees hold their biggest advantage over the Astros.

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Tanaka pitched a stellar outing in Game 3 of the ALDS against the Indians when the Yankees were facing elimination. Still, it's a group that's been heavily taxed.

It's worth noting that Yankees relievers have pitched 46.6% of New York's innings so far this postseason, so it's fair to start worrying at some point about overuse. That works out to almost 49 percent (82 of 168) of the outs that Yankees have recorded this postseason. It will feature the new major league record-holder for most home runs by a rookie, New York's Aaron Judge (52), and six of the top 15 sluggers, by slugging percentage, in the A.L. It will feature the hardest-throwing pitcher in history, Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman, and the two top candidates for league most valuable player, Judge and Houston's Jose Altuve.

"A couple of big home runs and a lock-down bullpen got them a few wins", Astros Manager A.J. Hinch said of the Yankees.

By the time his day was over, Sale had allowed six earned runs and nine hits, including six of the extra-base variety, while striking out six over five innings.

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"There's so many young guys on this team that maybe they don't realize they are supposed to lose", Singleton said. 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. He was part of a seven-game NLCS loss with Houston in 2004 after being traded from Kansas City to the then-National League Astros during that season. In its four playoff games, Houston has slashed at.333/.402/.527 and hit eight home runs.

The Red Sox will counter with Drew Pomeranz, who won a career-high 17 games and posted a 3.32 ERA during the regular season.

This is not the team you want to face with a exhausted bullpen.

The Astros are well aware that the kids are all right, a big reason why the Yankees, and not the Indians, are here as their ALCS opponents. The Astros are the better team and have home-field advantage. We're not expecting it, but it wouldn't be the upset of the century, either. The Yankees have the arms to at least limit what the Houston offense can do. Masahiro Tanaka will pitch for NY, which is in the championship series for the first time since 2012.

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