The Cleveland Indians-the number one seed in the American League-are favored to be in the World Series again.
Now that the New York Yankees have come back to win the thrilling American League Division series, they move on to face the Astros for the league championship with the first two games in Houston. That may be NY and thus the bad news for the Astros.
That trip to the postseason was the start of the Astros' evolution into a contender. Houston also gets production from Yulieski Gurriel, George Springer and Carlos Correa, who has pummeled the Yankees. Aaron Judge set a rookie record for home runs, and Gary Sanchez has become the MLB's best hitting catcher. It's not your parents' teams winning anymore.
Girardi said of his team, "They picked me up". It was epic and will be remembered as one of his best moments on a ballfield. Had Cleveland beaten the Yankees, the Indians would have had the home-field advantage from owning the best record in baseball.
The betting odds lean toward Houston, who has home-field advantage. On the road, the Astros defeated the Yankees, 3-0.
Houston has been the better team all season. NY has been propelled by the home run machine, rookie Aaron Judge. Outfielder Marwin Gonzalez was sixth in OPS. An extra pitcher or two may come in handy. If the playoffs factored into the voting, it would be no contest. Judge is coming into this series cold, with only one hit across 20 at-bats against Cleveland. Altuve ripped eight hits with three homers, four RBI and five runs in the Division Series, while Bregman put up four hits, three runs and two solo homers.
And the team that is playing the best at the end wins a postseason series. Judge, in particular, was a mess at the plate, becoming the first player to have three four-strikeout games in one series.
In terms of starting pitching, the Astros also seem to have the edge. Newly installed ace Justin Verlander hangs over the series. The ability to start the series with Keuchel and Verlander in consecutive games alone might make Houston the ALCS favorite.
NY rallied from a 2-0 series deficit to stun Cleveland in five games in the ALDS, taking Game 5 by a count of 5-2 on the road Wednesday.
The plays: Yankees plus-160 in series; Over 8.5 EVEN in Game 1; lean to Overs in other games at 9 runs or below. Counting the AL Wild Card game, the Yankees have survived elimination in four games. Closer Ken Giles and relievers Chris Devenski and Will Harris had big years, but they don't pose quite the same threat that New York's relievers do. They can re-set their rotation without throwing either Keuchel or Verlander on short rest.
The Yankees will be going with RHP Sonny Gray in Game 1 of the ALCS. He got the last six outs for the save Wednesday. The Astros may get to play a deciding seventh game in Houston, but only if the series goes that far. It was Frazier, still fairly new to the club, who said before all of them, "We have your back".