The New York Yankees will host the Houston Astros on Thursday in the opening matchup of a four-game American League showdown. This has turned into an intense non-divisional rivalry over recent years, with the Astros eliminating the Yankees from the postseason three times since 2015. Last season New York won four of the six head-to-head games against Houston.
*This preview was written before the conclusion of New York's game against Tampa Bay on Wednesday, but after Houston's daytime win over the Mets.
Astros head to the Bronx on 3 game winning streakThe Houston Astros have an American League-best 23 road wins this season. According to Caesar Sportsbook, they are third in MLB with +700 odds to win the World Series, and according to covers.com, Houston is the sixth most profitable team for sports bettors this season.
After beating the New York Mets 5-3 in an early game on Wednesday, the Astros are 18th scoring 4.4 runs per game and third with 93 home runs. Yordan Alvarez is having an MVP-caliber contending season with a .315 batting average, 21 home runs, 51 RBI, and 45 runs scored, after hitting two home runs in the latest victory against the Mets.
The pitching for Houston is third with a 3.03 ERA, and the defense is ninth with +25 runs saved. Southpaw Framber Valdez (7-3, 2.78 ERA) is scheduled to start on Thursday. In 13 starts this season, he has 68 strikeouts against 28 walks. Valdez has a 4-1 record with a 1.61 ERA in seven road starts this season. Against the Yankees, Valdez has made two career appearances and has a 0-1 record and 8.59 ERA.
Yankees going for 15th straight home winThe New York Yankees have the best record in MLB and are 29-7 at home this season. Coming into this series, New York is second to only the Dodgers with +450 odds to win the World Series, according to Caesar Sportsbook.
There hasn't been much to complain about for Yankees fans or sports bettors who have supported them this year. The team has been the most profitable team for gamblers to back this season. Offensively they lead MLB with 5.1 runs per game and 112 home runs. Aaron Judge leads MLB with 25 home runs and is sixth with 50 RBI. Anthony Rizzo is tied for fifth in MLB with 19 home runs and eighth with 49 RBI.
New York's pitching is first with a 2.88 ERA, and the defense is second with +42 runs saved on the season. Jameson Taillon (8-1, 2.70 ERA) will make his 14th start of the season when he faces the Astros. Taillon is 4-1 with a 2.70 ERA in seven home starts. In two career starts against Houston, Taillon is 0-1 with a 2.57 ERA.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
New York is an MLB-best 16-7 against left-handed pitchers this season, and they come into this series on a 14-game home winning streak. The Astros are one of the best baseball teams, but they will have a tough time in a hostile environment Thursday. The Stros have dropped five of their last seven games at Yankee Stadium, and Framber Valdez hasn't faced a lineup as tough as New York's yet this season (if there even is one). Valdez was also roughed up for five runs in 3 1/3 innings in his only career start at Yankee Stadium, which was back in 2019, so I expect some nerves here. The Yankees have won 11 of the last 12 starts made by Jameson Taillon, and I give them the edge to take the opener.
Full-Game Total Pick
The starting pitching matchup here is very strong as Valdez has been great on the road, and Tailion has been consistent no matter where he has pitched this season. The Astros also rank first in MLB with a 2.55 ERA in the bullpen, and the Yankee bullpen is third with a 2.96 ERA. As potent as the lineups are on both sides, the over/under is 16-20 in Yankee home games this season and 11-26 in the Astro's road games. I'll take the under here, banking on these two teams combining for less than nine runs.