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Yankees vs. Astros Game 1 prediction: Verlander, Houston should cruise to victory

Rested Astros are in a perfect situation to record a blowout win in ALCS opener

Houston Astros teammates Jeremy Peña and Alex Bregman celebrate after Peña's solo home run broke a 0-0 tie in the 18th inning against the Seattle Mariners in Game 3 of the American League Division Series in Seattle. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
Houston Astros teammates Jeremy Peña and Alex Bregman celebrate after Peña's solo home run broke a 0-0 tie in the 18th inning against the Seattle Mariners in Game 3 of the American League Division Series in Seattle. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)Read moreSteph Chambers / Getty Images

They had to go the distance, but the New York Yankees finally knocked out the Cleveland Guardians in their best-of-5 American League Division Series matchup.

The Bronx Bombers’ reward for Tuesday’s series-clinching 5-1 victory? A late-night trip from New York to Houston for an immediate American league Championship Series date with their personal kryptonite, the well-rested Astros.

Can the Yankees overcome a boatload of disadvantages and steal Game 1 from a potentially rusty Houston squad? Or will the Astros ride their inevitable American League Cy Young Award-winner to a comfortable series-opening victory?

Here’s how we’re betting Game 1 of the ALCS.

Yankees vs. Astros Prediction

  1. Astros -1.5 runs (at Caesars Sportsbook)

Yankees vs. Astros Prediction: Analysis

Plenty of jumping-off-point options in breaking down this matchup, and they all have one thing in common: A whole bunch of positives for the Astros.

Houston has been idle since surviving Saturday’s 18-inning marathon in Seattle, a game the Astros won 1-0 to complete an ALDS sweep and clinch their sixth consecutive ALCS appearance.

Soon after Houston polished off the Mariners on Saturday, the Yankees saw a 5-3 ninth-inning lead in Game 3 of the ALDS turn into a stunning 6-5 loss in Cleveland. New York staved off elimination with Sunday’s 4-2 road win over the Guardians, then returned home for a decisive Game 5 that was pushed from Monday to Tuesday because of weather.

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The Yankees ultimately took care of business with Tuesday’s convincing victory. However, because of Monday’s rainout, they’re forced to jump straight into the ALCS without a day off. And they must do so on the road … against a loaded Astros squad that’s coming off three days of R&R.

But wait, it gets worse for New York: Aaron Judge and Co. get to face Houston ace Justin Verlander in Game 1. All Verlander did this season was return from an 18-month absence after having Tommy John surgery and go 18-4 with an AL-best 1.75 ERA.

A sliver of good news for the Yankees? Verlander has been idle since getting blasted in Game 1 of the ALDS against Seattle eight days ago. The 39-year-old right-hander who is destined to win his fourth Cy Young Award yielded six runs on 10 hits in just four innings. Of course, Houston got Verlander off the hook when it rallied for an 8-7 walk-off victory.

Speaking of the Astros and winning, they did a lot of that against New York this season. After the Yankees took the first meeting 7-6, Houston won five of the next six clashes (including all three at home). Verlander was on the hill for one of those victories, a 3-1 triumph at Yankee Stadium in which he gave up just four hits in seven strong innings.

With that, Houston improved to 7-2 against the Yankees in games Verlander has started since he joined the team during the 2017 season. That includes two home wins during the 2017 ALCS, which the Astros won in seven games. Houston also sent New York packing in the 2019 ALCS (this time in six games).

» READ MORE: Full sports betting coverage from The Philadelphia Inquirer

That recent history is partially why the Astros are overwhelming favorites to win their fourth AL pennant in the last six years. But it’s not this biggest reason. This is: They’re simply a better team than — and a really bad matchup for — the Yankees.

We should see as much right off the bat in Wednesday’s Game 1. Look for Verlander to take full advantage of a weary Yankees lineup right from the jump, and look for Jose Altuve, Yordan Alvarez and the gritty Astros’ lineup to pick apart New York starter Jameson Taillon on the way to a multi-run victory.

Play the Astros -1.5 runs at +115 odds at Caesars Sportsbook. And while you’re at it, consider wagering on Houston to eliminate the Yankees in five games at +500 odds (also at Caesars Sportsbook). Because this smells like a short series.

Yankees vs. Astros Odds (via Caesars Sportsbook):

  1. Moneyline: Yankees (+162) @ Astros (-192)

  2. Run line: Yankees +1.5 runs (-135) @ Astros -1.5 runs (+115)

  3. Total: 6.5 (Over -125/Under +105)

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