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Astros/Yankees

I’m not entirely sure what happened here. Todd Frazier hit one of the strangest, sloppiest home runs I’ve ever seen, and now the Yankees have made it a series. After holding court at home in the first game behind a few weird hits and a vintage CC Sabathia performance, the Bronx Bombers have a chance to tie it up in the fourth game of the series. Both teams will have young pitchers who, uh, let’s just say haven’t exactly covered themselves in glory over the last half of the season.

Last night proved that anything is possible in Yankee Stadium III during the ALCS. We could end up with a pitching duel between Sonny Gray and Lance McCullers, we could see a slugfest, or we could be treated to anything in between. You can’t predict ball …

Houston Astros (Lance McCullers) at New York Yankees (Sonny Gray), 5:08 PM ET

PECOTA odds of winning: 52% Astros, 48% Yankees

Projected Starting Lineups

Astros vs. Gray (R) Yankees vs. McCullers (R)
George Springer (R), CF Brett Gardner (L), LF
Josh Reddick (L), RF Aaron Judge (R), RF
Jose Altuve (R), 2B Didi Gregorius (L), SS
Carlos Correa (R), SS Gary Sanchez (R), DH
Yulieski Gurriel (R), 1B Greg Bird (L), 1B
Alex Bregman (R), 3B Starlin Castro (R), 2B
Carlos Beltran (S), DH Aaron Hicks (S), CF
Marwin Gonzalez (S), L Todd Frazier (R), 3B
Brian McCann (L), C Austin Romine (R), C

Injuries/Availability

… but you can mostly predict these lineups. Unlike the series going on over in Chicago today, these two teams tend to run fairly standard lineups, no matter the opponent. The bullpens are a bit of a different story, however. With Charlie Morton chased in the fourth inning yesterday, that meant Will Harris Collin McHugh got plenty of run late in the game, throwing 50-plus pitches over four full innings. He won’t be available. If McCullers falters early, it’ll sit on Brad Peacock to come in and soak up long innings. The rest of the team’s bullpen and bench seems fine, though it’s possible Cameron Maybin is dealing with a terrible case of blindness.

On the other side, Brett Gardner and (maybe, but not really) Chase Headley got dinged by pitches, but look no worse for the wear. Adam Warren worked the longest out of the bullpen, so don’t be surprised if he’s out of commission tonight. Most important might be Dellin Betances’ continued dismissal of the strike zone. He’s been so rough recently that he’s probably not the team’s second or third option out of the ‘pen; I’d expect the Yankees to go with four other pitchers in high-leverage innings before looking to the once-and-future relief ace.

Gary Sanchez gets a day off from catching, sliding to the Yankees’ unproductive DH spot while Romine takes over behind the plate.

Outlook

Aesthetically, last night’s tilt was none too pleasing. (Though, Aaron Judge’s offense and defense was a remarkable exception.) But it got the job done: it brought the Yankees back from a two-game deficit and gave us some much-needed drama for a series that looked to be skewing far toward Houston. With the Yankees earning perhaps a rare edge in starting pitching and with a big home-field advantage–an advantage that certainly looked to be part of last night’s blowout win–it’s hard not to predict a Game 4 victory for the dudes in pinstripes.

That would set up an exciting sprint to the end of American League baseball for the season, which is good. It would also set the stage for a potential Yankees surge into the World Series which would be … well, let’s just say that the folks at BP Bronx will be pleased, but many other baseball fans wouldn’t be so thrilled at the outcome. No matter what happens in Game 4, the Yanks will have to face off against Justin Verlander and Dallas Keuchel again to make it to the World Series, but a win here sure would make things a little less daunting.

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