ALCS Game 5
Houston Astros at New York Yankees
First pitch: 5:08 p.m. PT
Probable pitchers: Justin Verlander (21-6, 2.58 ERA) vs. James Paxton (15-6, 3.52 ERA)
Just like last night’s contest, I’ll be aiming to pull out another win from a rematch of a recent pitching matchup in this American League Championship Series.
While the familiarity of facing a pitcher only five days later was part of my main reasoning for securing the over in Game 4 (after nailing the under in Game 1 involving the same two starters), I don’t think that will be as much a factor in this potential elimination affair. And thus, I feel good wagering on the same result as their Game 2 showdown last Saturday (which we had).
After all, is it ever a factor when dealing with two perennial American League Cy Young Award candidates like Verlander and Paxton twice in a short span? The former is in line as one of the two frontrunners (with teammate Gerrit Cole being the other) for this year’s honors — and New York has seen why firsthand plenty of times ever since Verlander was dealt to Houston two years ago.
Following the move, the former AL MVP has now made seven starts opposite the Yankees (including postseason), etching a pretty 1.79 ERA and 0.83 WHIP in those outings. He’s also racked up 62 K’s in 50.1 innings compared to just eight walks.
I like the idea, too, that Verlander still has fresh in his mind the poor showing he endured in Tampa Bay the last time he had a chance at closing out a series. You know the veteran isn’t going to want to shoulder the blame again should the series shift back to Minute Maid Park.
Ditto that mindset for Paxton (a Zylbert Guy since he first came up in 2013, remember). He also will not accept another disappointing performance, especially one that would likely end his team’s campaign — and at home.
At first glance, you might think Paxton wasn’t good after failing to even get out of the third inning in his Game 2 assignment last weekend. However, he wasn’t really struggling, as that had more to do with manager Aaron Boone’s aggressiveness to go to the bullpen early and put out a fire.
As I wrote about going into that victorious Game 2 under bet, Paxton’s typically been solid in his meetings with the Astros. Expect that tendency to play out here, and combined with a standout Verlander start, that figures to help set the tone for a low-scoring pace. Just wait up until first pitch like I am before placing your bet to see if the total ticks up a half-run. Play: UNDER 7.5/8
Yesterday’s Result: Astros-Yankees Over 8 (WIN)
2019 MLB Over/Under Betting Record*
Regular Season: 89-78-12, +1.05 units
Playoffs: 11-4-1, +3.2 units
*Each bet graded as if it were to win 1 unit (playoffs 0.5 unit)