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Game 3: Houston Astros @ New York Yankees
Houston Astros: 4.0 runs, -154 ML, New York Yankees: 3.0 Runs, +130 ML
What is in the water in Houston?
40-year-old Rodger Clemen looked like a Hall of Fame Great well past his prime his last couple years in New York. Then in 2004, Clemens came to the Houston Astros and immediately rocketed into the Cy Young discussion.
Eerily similarily, Justin Verlander appeared to be an All-Timer playing out the string his last couple years in Detroit, before seeing the moon and reforming back into a Beast over his last three seasons in Houston.
Whatever analytics -*cough, steroids* – that the Houston organization has exploited to get the best out of these Vets, I could argue their improvement of in-prime pitcher Garret Cole has been even more impressive.
Formerly a #1 overall draft pick, Cole had hovered somewhere between a Dwight Howard and a Kwame Brown level of disappointment over his first couple years in Pittsburgh. Today, Cole is the best pitcher in baseball for my money. Not only did he have a scarily consistent streak of quality starts, but Cole also shattered the strikeout rate for a single season this year, punching out almost 14 batters per 9 innings.
In an era where contemporaries of his like Clayton Kershaw and David Price have struggled to repeat their regular-season success in October, Cole has been even better in the post-season, posting a 2.62 ERA for his career in the playoffs. In 2 starts this October, Cole has allowed one earned run in 15.2 innings.
Cole has the advantage of only having pitched two games against the Yankees, the team that originally drafted him in the 2008 amateur draft. While he doesn’t have the Q score of his teammate Justin Verlander, I think Cole has the better stuff, especially against the best hitters in the world in an elimination series. I like the chances Cole pitches another gem.
Severino Pitching Like its 2018
For their part, the Yankees send out Louis Severino to start against the Astros in the Bronx today. For much of last season, Severino highlighted the Yankees staff. In a must-win Wild Card game last year against Oakland, sharp money poured in on Severino and the Yankees just before post. Severino did not disappoint, pitching 4 scoreless and striking out 7.
The Yankees survived this entire season without their ace from last year, still posting their best record since their 2009 title-winning campaign. Since he came back late last month, he has been as good as ever, allowing only two runs in 12 IP while striking out 17. Severino has excelled without the weight of carrying the Yankees staff.
Angle: Take the F5 Under 4.5 (-166). Each of these starting pitchers has been lights-out over the past couple of months and I don’t see signs of either of them slowing down. It’ll be in the brisk 50’s today in New York and the baseballs have likely been de-juiced. Despite the expensive vig, I think we have good wager here as either team getting over 2 runs by then would be a feat. Odds available at FanDuel.