Houston Astros vs Yankees 2017 ALCS: Sitting down with the enemy

HOUSTON, TX - JULY 02: Aaron Judge
HOUSTON, TX - JULY 02: Aaron Judge /

The Houston Astros officially know their opponent in the ALCS as they will be facing the 2nd storied MLB franchise in a row, the New York Yankees. We had a conversation with our friends at Empire Writes Back to discuss the upcoming series.

As we all know by now, the Houston Astros are heading to their first-ever ALCS. Their opponent? The New York Yankees, a team that is riding high after ELIMINATING the Cleveland Indians who was a team many thought would be representing the AL in the World Series.

So it looks like it ended up working for the Houston Astros in the long run. They have home field advantage in the ALCS over the Yankees since we were a higher seed. Many people don’t agree with the whole 2-3-2 format of the ALCS, but hey, not gonna complain that we got home field advantage.

The Yankees have an MVP candidate of their own, which is Aaron Judge. Judge had a really quiet ALDS but you know great players like him don’t stay quiet for long periods of time. He is a home run machine and could use the size of Minute Maid Park to his advantage.

In this post, I sat down with Sean Dyer who is the expert at Empire Writes Back.

I asked him three questions about the upcoming series between the New York Yankees and Houston Astros:

"Gracia: Who will be the X-factor for the Yankees against the Houston Astros?Dyer: The Yankees X-Factor will continue to be Didi Gregorius. Didi has been New York’s most consistent hitter all season long. He’s found his power stroke, breaking Derek Jeter‘s franchise record for most home runs in a season by a shortstop. He’s also been so clutch, already hittingthree home runs in winner-take-all games this postseason. With Aaron Judge struggling, Didi has stepped up in a huge way. I expect Judge to start putting the ball in play more often but Didi Gregorius is the heart and soul of this Yankees team right now.Gracia: What is your biggest concern facing the Houston Astros?His reply: My biggest concern is the Houston Astros ability to make contact. The Yankees pitching staff has been striking people out at a huge rate this season but the Astros put the ball in play better than any other team. The Yankees have a great defense to handle that contact butMore from House of HoustonAre you the 2021 FanSided Sports Fan of the Year?Houston Texans: 4 reasons Romeo Crennel is right coach right nowAstros-Twins Wild Card Series: 5 things to know as MLB postseason beginsHouston Texans: The Most Underrated Sports Drought EverHouston Texans: J.J. Watt’s early case for NFL Hall of Famemy biggest concern is in big situations with runners on base, will the Yankees power bullpen be able to strike out Astros batters to freeze runners? Strikeouts got New York out of a few jams in the ALDS and they may need to do the same in the ALCS. Houston, however, will make that difficult.Gracia: Will Aaron Judge out-duel Jose Altuve in the battle of the 2017 AL MVP candidates and have a huge series against a tough Astros pitching staff?Dyer: To be honest, I don’t think so. Altuve is on fire and Judge is really struggling. Aaron Judge willmake his adjustments and be better than he was in the ALDS but I don’t anticipate a huge series. Jose Altuve will also set a tough pace to keep up with. I think Judge bounces back and starts putting the ball in play more, perhaps he hits a homer or two. However, Altuve is just too consistent and so hard to get out. He’ll likely spend most of the ALCS on base causing headaches for Joe Girardi."

Dyer also had a some questions for me so feel free to take a look at his post HERE to see the other angle of it all.

Next: Astros: THREE reasons the ALCS will be an all-out war

No lead is safe when playing the Astros. We have the ability to score runs late in games quickly and when our bats are hot at that point, good luck getting us out. I’ve witnessed this team tack on 11 runs in an inning against your [Wild Card] opponents, the Minnesota Twins.

Our whole lineup can mash the ball from 1-9 and it is absolutely fun to watch. My X-Factor at the plate is Yuli Gurriel. Nothing fazes this man. He’s been tearing it up this series as he has nine hits in 17 ABs, which is a .529 BA.

The series begins on Friday at 7:08 p.m. CDT on FS1.

Go Astros!