The Yankees are still alive. Somehow, some way, the New York Yankees are still alive after climbing back from a 2-0 deficit against the Cleveland Indians. From the Wild Card to the American League Championship Series, the Yankees have battled through it all and have a World Series berth in sight.
Here are 3 keys things that must happen for the Yankees to defeat the Houston Astros and advance to the World Series.
Aaron Judge has to be less garbage
I know the Yankees just took out a 102 win team with Aaron Judge playing poorly. But there’s no chance New York gets past the Astros if Judge has a repeat performance of what he did in the ALDS.
Judge was historically bad against Cleveland, managing one hit (shown below) in 20 at bats and striking out 16 times during the series. Minute Maid Park is very hitter friendly, but the potential AL MVP won’t do much damage if he can’t even put the ball in play. With how often the Astros are able to put the ball in the stands, the Yankees can’t afford to have Judge’s bat fall silent yet again.
BOOMING 2-RBI double for Aaron Judge! Yankees lead 4-0. pic.twitter.com/3CUiQ55PJX
— YES Network (@YESNetwork) October 10, 2017
Saying something like “Judge has to hit x amount of home runs or the Yankees will lose” doesn’t hold up. However, New York can’t afford for Judge to not be a top producer in this series.
Limit errors and keep games short
The Astros made quick work of the Red Sox and have had the opportunity for a brief rest. As for the Yankees, they are coming off a five-game absolute battle of a series. After falling to a 2-0 disadvantage thanks to a brutal extra inning loss, New York stayed resilient and took out a team many viewed as the World Series favorite from the American League. Can they do it again?
These guys have been on the field almost daily since spring training. Adrenaline is flowing, but bodies are absolutely wearing down. After a long division series, the Yankees can’t afford another long series. Pitchers need to hit their spots and avoid wasted pitches, and the defense needs to be rock solid. In addition to extending games, giving the Astros too many extra chances could result in a shortened series followed by a plane ride home.
The longer the series goes, the less I like the Yankees chances. They must strike early and often and can’t let the Astros hang around.
Bullpen must live up to the hype
The Yankees bullpen absolutely got it done this season. Counterpoint: Chris Sale is a Cy Young contender and reliever Craig Kimbrel was lights out all year and the Astros made them look silly.
I know Kimbrel carries a somewhat similar intimidation factor, but it just seems like there’s a different feeling when you are staring down Aroldis Chapman on the mound. When he was on the bump for game five, it was almost like you knew the season was over for Cleveland. They weren’t coming back.
— Aroldis Chapman (@AChapman_105) October 12, 2017
Of course Chapman delivered and now the Yankees find themselves four wins away from the World Series. In mid to late innings, Chapman and the rest of the Yankees bullpen must continue to deliver. Dellin Betances, Tommy Kahnle and company must be on top of their games, as the Astros can change the game with one swing of a bat.