The Yankees and Astros play Game 4 of the best-of-seven ALCS on Tuesday afternoon at Yankee Stadium. The Astros lead the series 2-1 after the Yankees' victory in Game 3.
|George Springer, CF||Brett Gardner, LF|
|Josh Reddick, RF||Aaron Judge, RF|
|Jose Altuve, 2B||Didi Gregorius, SS|
|Carlos Correa, SS||Gary Sanchez, DH|
|Yuli Gurriel, 1B||Greg Bird, 1B|
|Alex Bregman, 3B||Starlin Castro, 2B|
|Carlos Beltran, DH||Aaron Hicks, CF|
|Marwin Gonzalez, LF||Todd Frazier, 3B|
|Brian McCann, C||Austin Romine, C|
Who is starting for the Yankees?
RHP Sonny Gray, who allowed three runs on three hits while walking four and striking out two in 3 1/3 innings in Game 1 of the ALDS on Oct. 5 against the Indians.
He allowed five runs on seven hits while walking four and striking out five in 5.0 innings against the Astros on June 20 while he was still pitching for the Athletics.
Who is starting for the Astros?
RHP Lance McCullers, Jr., who allowed two runs on three hits while walking two and striking out four in 3.0 innings on Oct. 8 in Game 3 of the ALDS against the Red Sox.
He started against the Yankees twice during the regular season, tossing 6.0 scoreless innings while allowing four hits, walking none, and striking out seven on May 12 at Yankee Stadium, and allowing three runs on six hits while walking two and striking out six in 5 1/3 innings on June 30 in Houston.
1. Win the battle of uncertain starters
Sonny Gray hasn't pitched in 12 days and when he last touched the ball, he was completely ineffective. Going back to his last few appearances leading up to the playoffs, Gray was struggling. McCullers is in a similar boat as far as performance is concerned. He has tried to work through injuries, but he's clearly been affected by it, posting an 8.23 ERA in the second half (27 1/3 innings) and allowing two earned runs in a three-inning relief outing against Boston in the division series. Whoever survives with the least amount of damage could tilt the game.
2. Gregorius/Sanchez following Judge
Aaron Judge delivered an important three-run home run in Game 3 and if he's to continue getting pitches he can control, a lot of that will have to do with what Gregorius or Sanchez (depending on who is slotted behind Judge) do at the plate. Gregorius is hitting just .169 in the ALCS and Sanchez has yet to get a hit in the series (11 at-bats). So if the Astros believe Judge is coming around, they will work around him until Gregorius/Sanchez give them a reason not to.
3. Deep bullpen
The Yankees would have preferred not to utilize Tommy Kahnle in Game 3 with an eight-run lead, but at the least they did not have to use their best three relievers -- Chad Green, David Robertson, and Aroldis Chapman. Each of them will be available for extended appearances and Kahnle could still pitch if absolutely necessary. Meanwhile, Dellin Betances will be kept as far away from the ball as possible in a close game. The bullpen will be extremely important with the huge question mark that Gray represents as the starter.