Series Preview: New York Yankees @ Houston Astros

The New York Yankees had a late night in Chicago but they'll have to put that series behind them as they open a three-game set against the Houston Astros on Friday night. The Astros are currently the best team in the American League and have shown little signs of slowing down. Their 54-26 record has built them a double-digit lead in their division while the Yankees are looking to reclaim a hold on their own. New York is still in free fall as they haven't won a series in over two weeks. This series will be a difficult test on an injury riddled team.

Game One (Friday, June 30 | First Pitch: 8:10 PM ET)
Michael Pineda (7-4, 4.12 ERA) vs. Lance McCullers Jr. (7-1, 2.53 ERA)

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Michael Pineda has regressed in his last few starts, putting the Yankees in dire situations before they have a chance to set the table. Despite this he is still 7-4 and has shown signs of recovery after rough patches to deliver innings. His last start against the Texas Rangers was one of his worst, throwing only 4.0 innings and allowing seven runs. Before that he was dependable enough to take the team into the sixth and leave them in a stable position. He'll need to return to that form if the Yankees want to start this series off on the right foot.

Across from him is Lance McCullers Jr. The 23-year old has been pitching in the big leagues since 2015 and has quietly put together solid numbers. This season he is 7-1 with a below 3.00 ERA. One area that New York can take advantage of is his high pitch count. He can be driven from the game sooner rather than later with a bit of patience. He doesn't surrender much in the way of home runs but should they get to the bullpen, the team should have a better chance.

Game Two (Saturday, July 1 | First Pitch: 7:15 PM ET)
Jordan Montgomery (6-4, 3.53 ERA) vs. Francis Martes (2-0, 5.51 ERA)

Paul J. Bereswill
Game two stands as the best chance the Yankees have to grab a win as the Astros will send Francis Martes to the mound. The 21-year old right hander has made only three starts this season with only one going into the sixth inning. A few strong innings could rattled the young pitcher and give the team a chance to boss the game the way they do best this season.

On the mound for the Yankees will be Jordan Montgomery. The left handed pitcher has become one of the more consistent throwers for the New York, pitching at least into the sixth inning in each of his June starts. He also has four wins in the month, making him one of the more effective pitchers based on results that the Yankees have had over this difficult month.

Game Three (Sunday, July 2 | First Pitch: 2:10 PM ET)
Luis Severino (5-3, 3.15 ERA) vs. TBD

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Luis Severino will take the mound for the Yankees in what could be the deciding game of the series. Severino has been the quiet ace of New York, pitching in big games throughout the year. Aside from one game against LA earlier this month where he surrendered five runs, he has kept the team in the games he's pitched. The real question will be whether he can handle one of the more well built teams in the majors this season.

The Astros have yet to announce who they will be be putting up against Severino but it may end up being veteran right hander Mike Fiers. The 32-year old is 5-3 with a 3.98 ERA. His last start was less than stellar, giving up four runs over 5.2 innings. He will give up the home run ball which is something that Yankee hitters should keep an eye on.

Yankee Players to Watch:

Dellin Betances

If Betances was supposed to have an audition as a potential closer he has certainly blown the chance in his last few appearances. In particular, his blown game against the White Sox a few days ago looms large over whether or not he is dependable out of the bullpen. Thus far Aroldis Chapman hasn't wavered but he'll quickly find himself fatigued if other arms can't pick up the slack. The Yankee bullpen was supposed to be one of their strongest points but has thus far been one of their glaring problems.
Cory Spikin/New York Daily News
Chris Carter

Don't look now but Chris Carter is back! Injuries have paved the way for his return to the Yankee lineup but he'll have to prove himself unless he wishes to find himself banished once again. His .204 batting average is not what manager Joe Girardi envisioned and his power numbers have been non-existent. Still, injuries have made it so that he will see time on the field. It'll be up to him to produce and make the most of this new opportunity.

Astros Players to Watch:

Jose Altuve

The little engine that could continues to chug along as Altuve is riding an eight-game hitting streak. The 27-year old second baseman is batting .327 with 11 home runs. If those stats aren't impressive enough, he's also stolen 14 bases this season, making him one of the best all-around players in the game. The Yankees will have to focus on keeping him off the bases or the headaches will be massive.

The Yankees will luckily not have to face Dallas Keuchel this series due to his neck injury, but this series could really be a momentum shifter for a team that has struggled as of late, if they are able to pull through with a series victory.

Article by: Anthony Merced


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