ALCS Series Preview, Picks, and Odds

by | Oct 19, 2022 | Baseball

The American League Championship Series is set, and it only took a few extra days compared to the National League. We have a full five game series and weather to thank for that. The best of 7 series will be between the top two seeds in the AL, the Houston Astros and New York Yankees. There is a belief in baseball that once you make it to the postseason, anything can happen. That has proven true in the National League. However, in the ALCS the two powerhouses will battle it out for a ticket to the 2022 World Series. Let’s dive into this ALCS series preview and picks.

For a few months after the All-Star break, the Yankees were cruising towards the best record in the AL. Toward the seasons end they faltered, while the Astros continued to win and finished the season with 106 wins. In the regular season, Houston took 5 of the 7 games head-to-head. However, it’s now October and we will see who will win the American League pennant. It will either be the team that is making its sixth appearance in the ALCS in a row or the team with the most titles in MLB history. This isn’t David vs. Goliath but Goliath vs. Goliath, and one team must fall.

New York Yankees (+145) at Houston Astros (-170)

Game Preview

After earning the bye, the Yankees took on the Cleveland Guardians coming off their win over the Rays. Cleveland’s strength was its pitching, having had the lowest bullpen ERA in the second half of the regular season. They also allowed the least homeruns per 9 innings. This didn’t play well against the Yankees’ offense that scored half the runs during the regular season off the longball.

It was clear from the series start that the Guardians had two goals, one of which was shutting down Aaron Judge. In the final 3 games the right fielder had 4 hits, including 2 homeruns and 3 RBIs. It will be imperative for Judge to keep this productivity up through the series with Houston. He will need to get on base in front of Rizzo and Stanton for driving in runs early in games.

The offensive surprise in the ALDS was center fielder Harrison Bader. He had 3 homeruns against Cleveland after having just 5 through 86 regular season games. New York cannot rely on this continuing and will have to keep up productivity in the top of the lineup.

The other key for the Yankees will be pitching, especially starting pitchers not named Gerrit Cole. Following two starts in the ALDS and accounting for 2 of the 3 wins, including Game 4 in Cleveland, Cole gets rest.

Jameson Taillon will be making the start in Game 1 of the ALCS. Taillon pitched one relief appearance in the ALDS, coming into the 10th inning in Game 2. During which he allowed 3 hits and 2 earned runs, without ever collecting an out. The Yankees have yet to release any other starting pitchers. However, it is probable they will start Cole again Game 2 and Nestor Cortes in Game 3. Cortes earned the other ALDS win and left Game 2 with the game tied. He must be sharp against a Houston lineup that scored 13 runs on a good Seattle rotation in just 3 games. If Cole is pitching Game 2, it will be on short rest. However, he would also be able to pitch again if there is a Game 7.

For Houston, they have been here before. The Astros are only the second team in MLB history to appear in the ALCS series six seasons in a row. In those six appearances, they have faced the Yankees in two of them and won both. The Astros will look to their pitching first and offense second in looking to take down the Bronx Bombers for a third time to advance to the World Series.

Starting Game 1 will be potential 2022 Cy Young winner Justin Verlander, who looks to rebound from his Game against Seattle. He allowed 6 earned runs on 10 hits in just 4 innings of work. He had only allowed 6 earned runs in one start all regular season before that, also to the Mariners. In one start against the Yankees this season he earned a win with a 4 hit, 1 earned run outing where he pitched 7 innings.

The Astros have yet to announce starters for Game 2 and 3. They will likely be Lance McCullers Jr. and Framber Valdez, in some order. McCullers Jr. pitched Game 3 of the ALDS, going 6 innings, and allowing no runs. Pitching in Game 2 would give him full rest and allow him to pitch again in the series. On the other hand, the Game 3 starter will not have that luxury, given the shortened schedule for this series. Valdez pitched in Game 2 of the ALDS. He was hit for 2 runs in 5.2 innings of work, coming on 4 hits and 3 walks.

Houston will be ready to shut down the high-powered Yankees’ offense even when the starters come out of the game. The Astros’ bullpen had the highest WAR in the league this season and a WHIP of just 1.11, good for second best. In the ALDS, the bullpen combined for just 1 earned run on 20.1 innings total, allowing 5 hits and 5 walks. The pinnacle of these performances was allowing no runs on just 5 hits and one walk in 12 innings of relief in Game 3. Last season’s Rookie of the Year runner up Luis Garcia pitched 5 of those innings out of the bullpen, allowing 2 hits and striking out 6 Seattle batters. He could be the Game 4 starter in this series if he is not needed for a similar role in the first 3 games.

While Houston put up 13 runs in 36 innings against Seattle, their offense will be set up for even more runs in this series. At the start of the season, it looked like the offense lost a step with the departure of Carlos Correa.

Rookie Jeremy Pena proved a worthy replacement all season and did not disappoint in the ALDS either. He got 4 hits including 2 singles in front of Yordan Alvarez homeruns, as well as a homerun himself to clinch the series. Speaking of Alvarez, he is likely more feared entering this series than anyone else on either lineup, including a guy that just set the record for single season homeruns in the AL. Alvarez batted above .300 with 36 homeruns in the regular season and added 4 hits, 2 more homeruns and 7 RBIs in 15 plate appearances last series. Place him in a lineup after Altuve and Pena and in front of Bregman and Gurriel and the Yankees will not be able to pitch around him.

There should be plenty of run support against a tired and banged up Yankee rotation to support all the Houston arms throughout this series.

ALCS Series Preview Probable Pitchers

Game 1 – Wednesday 7:37 PM EST

Probable Starters – Jameson Taillon (NYY) vs. Justin Verlander (HOU)

Game 2 – Thursday 7:37 PM EST

Probable Starters – TBA

Game 3 – Saturday 5:07 PM EST

Probable Starters – TBA

Game 4 – Sunday 7:07 PM EST

Probable Starters – TBA

Game 5 (if necessary) – Monday 4:07 PM EST

Probable Starters – TBA

Game 6 (if necessary) – Tuesday 6:07 PM EST

Probable Starters – TBA

Game 7 (if necessary) – Wednesday 7:37 PM EST

Probable Starters – TBA

alcs series preview odds

ALCS Series Preview Prediction

The Astros will be coming in with one huge advantage: rest. This ALCS series will only one rest day, regardless of how long it goes, and that’ll be extremely taxing. The Yankees enter the series having played two extra games with no rest following Game 5 of the ALDS to Game 1 of the ALCS. Watch for this to tilt the series Houston’s direction, especially in late innings in the Yankee bullpen. The Astros will make another attempt to bring a World Series title back to Houston.

Wicked Wager – Houston to Win Series (-210)

Wicked Prop Bet – Houston to Win in 6 Games (+350) / Total Runs Scored in Series Over 46.5 (+175)