The ALCS is teetering on the brink of the Astros running away with it. Meanwhile, the Yankees will turn to their grizzled veteran lefty to try salvage the series as it shifts to the Bronx.
Buckle up, it should be a fun matchup!
RHP Charlie Morton (HOU) versus LHP C.C. Sabathia (NYY) — 8:08 p.m. ET, FS1
Morton started the clincher against the Red Sox—Game 4—and was good, but not great in his 4.1 innings of work. He would allow just two earned runs. But also, seven hits while fanning six and walking two in what was a 5-4 win. Where Morton doesn’t quite fit the mold compared to Justin Verlander and Dallas Keuchel is that he’ll most certainly rely on the Astros bullpen.
Like we’ve seen from numerous teams this postseason, that might mean a very short start. And where that can come back to bite the Astros is that the matchup between their bullpen and that of the Yankees very clearly favors New York. The Yankees have the best bullpen ERA of the remaining teams. And, they were third overall this season behind Cleveland and Boston. It’s a bullpen that can run five or six deep. The Astros, on the other hand, really only have one or maybe two arms. They were 17th in bullpen ERA this year at 4.27.
Sabathia was brilliant in the clincher over the Indians, outdueling Corey Kluber over 4.1 innings with nine strikeouts, no walks and two earned runs. That’s what qualifies as an ace-like performance in these playoffs—as opposed to Justin Verlander basically reaching instant October legend status with his performance in the ALCS—though it does work well with the Yankees bullpen, as we’ve previously noted.
The key issue here is how long the bullpen can hold up under that sort of duress. And it’s not bound to get any easier if the Yankees are in it for the long haul. In the interest of honesty/full disclosure, this Astros club feels like a runaway train or a team of destiny. The Yankees need to draw a line in the sand—and fast.