The New York Yankees have been on a magical ride since the beginning of the postseason. They’ve fallen behind early in every round only to storm back in true Yankee fashion. They fell behind 3-0 in the Wild Card game against the Twins. They fell behind 2-0 in the ALDS against the Cleveland Indians. And they fell behind 2-0 in the ALCS against the Houston Astros.
However, the Yankees overcame their deficits in every single round, and as of Thursday, the Yankees are one win away from reentering the Fall Classic for the first time since 2009.
The Yankees are close to playing for their 28th World Series Championship, but before they can punch their ticket to either Los Angeles or Chicago, they’ll have to defeat Justin Verlander in Game 6.
Verlander was masterful against the Yankees in Game 2 of the ALCS, pitching a complete game 2-1 victory. But even though the Yankees have to face Verlander a second time, they have the Astros right where they want them.
The key to winning the ALCS was defeating either Dallas Keuchel or Verlander. After pitching a dominant Game 1, Keuchel faltered in Game 5.
The answer is simple: the Yankees made adjustments against Keuchel in Game 5. Instead of swinging at pitches that were borderline, the Yankees waited for pitches that were in the middle of the plate.
Interesting how Bird said Yankees wanted to swing at Keuchel’s pitches in middle of plate. Not easy because he pitches so well to edges.
That means the Yankees will have to adjust to Verlander in Game 6. However, it won’t be easy since Verlander thrives in elimination games.
Verlander in four elimination games: 1.48 ERA, 33K, 8 BB, .183 BA in 30 1/3 IP (WSG5 2006; LCSG5 2011; DSG5 2012; DSG5 2013). Per STATS LLC.
If the Yankees can’t get to Verlander and if the series has to go to a Game 7, the Yankees are in the driver’s seat. The Astros won’t have Keuchel or Verlander available, and CC Sabathia will take the mound with the season on the line.
When the series began, all of the momentum was on the Houston Astros side. But with three straight wins at Yankee Stadium, the momentum shifted, and the Yankees are now determined to make their first World Series appearance in eight years.