Two of the top teams in the American League get together for the first time this season when the Houston Astros (43-25, 23-14 away) take on the New York Yankees (51-18, 29-7 home) in a four-game series beginning on Thursday night.
The first pitch of the series opener is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. EST inside Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, New York. The Yankees are the betting favorite (-125), and the over-under total is 8.5 runs.
What to Know – Houston Astros
Houston took care of business against the Yankees’ cross-town rival, handing the New York Mets a pair of losses earlier this week in Texas. The Astros have won seven of their last ten contests and own a ten-game lead in the AL West.
On the hill for Houston is lefty Framber Valdez (7-3, 2.78 ERA, 1.15 WHIP). The 28-year-old is off to a strong start this season, only losing one game in his last seven trips to the mound. Valdez has tossed 81.0 innings, allowing 25 earned runs on 65 hits and 28 walks, with 68 strikeouts.
Yordan Alvarez is second in the majors with 21 home runs and seventh with 51 runs driven in. The mammoth 24-year-old outfielder is doing all this thanks to a team-high .315 batting average. Kyle Tucker is second on the team with 45 RBI, backed by 13 home runs.
The Astros average 4.3 runs per game thanks to a .239 team batting average that ranks 18th in the majors. Houston’s pitching staff sports a 3.04 team earned run average, third in the league and second in the AL.
What to Know – New York Yankees
The Yankees became the first time to win 50 games this week and have the best record in baseball. New York is 8-2 over its last ten contests and owns a wide lead in the AL East.
Right-hander Jameson Taillon (8-1, 2.70 ERA, 1.06 WHIP) gets the call for the Yankees. Taillon is having a career year, having ran 12 consecutive starts together without a loss. The 30-year-old has logged 73.1 innings on the mound, surrendering 22 earned runs on 69 hits and nine walks, with 60 punchouts.
Early MVP candidate Aaron Judge leads the majors with 27 home runs and his fourth in the MLB with 52 RBI. Judge smacked a pair of home runs in last night’s victory over the Tampa Bay Rays. Anthony Rizzo has 19 home runs and 49 RBI, and Giancarlo Staton has chipped in 14 round-trippers and 42 RBI.
New York has two things going for them, a lineup that scores 5.1 runs per game and ranks 13th in the MLB with a .246 team batting average and a pitching staff that is tops in the league with a 2.90 team ERA.
The Pick is In
New York and Houston will give us a preview this weekend of a potential playoff series later this year. For now, these top two AL teams will try to keep the momentum going as the month of June closes.
Both pitchers will hold their own against these talented lineups, but it’s hard to go against the team with the best record on their home turf.
The Pick: New York Yankees ML