After hanging on for a tight 4-3 win in the opener on Thursday night, the New York Yankees (57-52) look to make it three in a row as they face off against the Houston Astros (62-48) in the second game of this four-game ALCS rematch. First pitch from Yankee Stadium on Friday night is set for 7:05 p.m. ET. Young righty Hunter Brown (7-7, 4.12 ERA) takes the mound for Houston, while Luis Severino (2-5, 7.49) looks to get back on track after a disastrous 2023 season so far.
The Astros saw their three-game winning streak snapped on Thursday, but with Justin Verlander in tow and their lineup getting healthy, things are still pointing up as they sit just 1.5 games back of the Texas Rangers in the AL West. They’ll spend their weekend in New York before heading down I-95 to continue their road trip with another big series in Baltimore against the Orioles.
Every time we’re ready to bury the 2023 Yankees, they find a way to at least keep a tiny sliver of hope alive. New York has won two straight, and they’re now just two back of the Toronto Blue Jays in the loss column for the third and final AL Wild Card spot. They have two more against Houston before hitting the road Monday to start a series against the White Sox.
Houston enters as -148 favorites on the moneyline at DraftKings Sportsbook, with the Yankees at +124. The run total is set at 9.
Astros-Yankees picks: Friday, August 4
Out: SP Jose Urquidy (right shoulder inflammation), OF Michael Brantley (right shoulder surgery)
Out: 3B Josh Donaldson (right calf strain), SP Nestor Cortes (left rotator cuff strain)
Hunter Brown vs. Luis Severino
Brown started the month of July slowly, but he finished with a flourish, posting consecutive six-inning, two-run outings against the Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays. It’s been about as up-and-down as you’d expect for a pitcher going through his first full MLB season, but Brown — who entered the year as Houston’s top pitching prospect — has flashed big-time upside (a 74th-percentile K rate) and inconsistency (4.12 ERA). He’s got a couple of legit breaking balls in his slider and curve, and when the offspeed offerings are getting down below the zone rather than hanging, he looks an awful lot like a young (and healthy) Lance McCullers Jr.
What’s happened to Severino this season is among the more inexplicable developments in recent MLB history. Sure, the righty has always struggled to stay healthy, but whenever he’s been on the mound he’s been among the better starters in the game — until this year, at least. Severino has allowed seven or more runs four different times in just 12 starts this year, including a 10-hit, nine-run disaster over three innings last time out against the Baltimore Orioles. His expected batting average, expected slugging and barrel rates are all in the bottom 10 percent of the Majors, and a guy who was once reliably among the league leaders in K/9 is hardly missing any bats anymore. It’s unclear what’s changed exactly, but Sevy’s stuff just isn’t fooling anyone these days.
Brown could feast on this righty-heavy Yankees offense, but honestly, Severino could push this over all by himself with the way he’s pitching right now. The Astros offense is finally getting to full health with Yordan Alvarez and Jose Altuve back, and despite yesterday’s 4-3 final, I think New York will do just enough while Houston’s bats bust out and hit this total.
Pick: Over 9
There’s just no way to back the Yankees with Severino on the hill, and honestly, they should probably be even steeper underdogs than they are. Houston has a massive advantage on the mound and a deeper, more dangerous lineup, and they should even up this series on Friday night.