It won't be easy
HOUSTON – The Astros may be the best team in baseball, but the Yankees are second. The Astros may have the top 1-3 pitching staff of any team in baseball, but the Yankees are no slouch.
Houston learned in game 5 that a blowout of the Yankees, especially on New York's home field is going to take a lot more than the momentum from an awesome walk-off home run.
James Paxton pitched a gem, and the Yankees bullpen was lockdown as usual. Legendary Hall of Fame Manager Earl Weaver of the Orioles once said that 3-run home runs are your best friend. The Yankees are just as good at having those friends as Houston is.
Time to bench Yordan?
Yordan Alvarez will be one of the Astros best hitters for the next half-decade. But that doesn't mean he was right for the line up in Game 5. Alvarez started hot in the playoffs, hitting .375 (6-16) in the first four games against Tampa Bay. Since then, he's ice cold. Alvarez is 1-22, including a 1-19 clip in the ALCS. Against the left-handed James Paxton, it just didn't work. A.J. Hinch's thinking, though, was right on line. Alvarez destroyed the Yankees in the regular season and destroyed left-handed pitching at a similar line to his destruction of right-handed pitching.
The postseason can be hard on rookies, and Alvarez is going through it against a veteran pitching staff. Both the Astros and the Yankees have said they will pitch bullpen games tomorrow, meaning Alvarez might have to exclusively face left-handed pitching.
What does a bullpen game entail?
It's all hands on deck for Game 6 as the Astros are saving Gerrit Cole for Game 7. That means Houston needs to get 9 innings from a mix of names, which will likely include Josh James, Jose Urquidy, Bryan Abreu and Brad Peacock. Peacock and Urquidy are not hard throwers, but are less volatile and prone to a big inning than say a Josh James, or the young right-hander Abreu.
The Astros can bring out the big guns situationally or starting in the sixth inning. Early innings will be up to a group of mostly unproven pitchers.