Cleveland won 102 games to the Astros' 101, had a 22-game winning streak and went 45-12 from August 2 to the end of the regular season.
New York's bullpen is a game-changer.
Houston Astros fans cheer before Game 4 of the ALDS against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on Monday, Oct. 9, 2017, in Boston.
Pitching Game 1 for NY will be Sonny Gray (10-12, 3.55 ERA), while Houston goes with Dallas Keuchel (14-5, 2.90).
The Astros had the AL's best offense in the regular season.
Jose Altuve, the Astros' 5-foot-6 second baseman, tied a postseason record when he belted three home runs against the Red Sox in Game 1 of their ALDS.
Right-hander Justin Verlander has looked rejuvenated since the Astros acquired the 34-year-old in a trade from the Detroit Tigers on August 31. Keuchel had a 1.12 WHIP with 125 strikeouts in 145 2/3 innings in the regular season. I'll go with over 8.5 EVEN in Game 1 and lean to the overs in the rest of the series (they were 5-2 in the season series, including 3-0 in Houston).
-David Robertson came out of the bullpen in the fifth to give NY the first 2 2/3 innings of 4 2/3 innings of no-hit relief. He allowed one unearned run on five hits with nine strikeouts and one walk over six innings in a win over the Yankees earlier this year.
That result, with the Yankees winning 5-2 in Game 5 as plus-170 road underdogs, cashed my plus-145 series bet and salvaged what had started as a disastrous baseball playoffs for yours truly. Houston will also run out Justin Verlander (15-8, 3.36), Brad Peacock (13-2, 3.00) and Charlie Morton (14-7, 3.62). But shortstop Didi Gregorius was awesome on Wednesday, hitting a pair of home runs in his first two turns against Kluber to put NY up 3-0. Gardner had three hits, a run and a key RBI in the ninth on Wednesday in Game 5, but Judge came up empty 0-for-5 with four Ks. We know who runs "Club Astros". Carlos Correa and Alex Bregman both had two home runs to help lead Houston to the series win.
The "Baby Bombers", as the Yankees' young core is often called, have already exceeded expectations, and a loss to the Astros in the ALCS would not be a disappointment. It's what happened in the wild-card game, as well as Game 5 of the ALDS. With the Astros bullpen a plus unit and the defense being strong at almost every position, it's hard to find a flaw with Houston. Meanwhile, the Astros had to work through their city literally being rebuilt in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, carrying the weight of expectations for a 101-win team out to provide hope.