Yankees Ground Astros in Battle of Baseball's Elite on May 11

Dallas Keuchel

Doug Upstone

Thursday, May 11, 2017 3:52 PM GMT

Thursday, May. 11, 2017 3:52 PM GMT

Houston and the New York Yankees are doing everything right and have emerging young talent. This should be one heck of a series with the two best teams in baseball doing battle over four days. Here's a preview of Thursday's opener in the Bronx. 

As we head only toward the middle of May, no need to oversell this Yankees-Astros matchup, yet it is clear these are two excellent squads who could be meeting in the postseason this fall. Having rattled off four straight winners here, let's see if I can stay as hot as these two clubs for MLB picks.

 

Pitching Matchup: Keuchel Vs. Pineda

No other way to put it, Dallas Keuchel is in the zone. The left-hander is 5-0 with a 1.88 ERA and opposing batters are hitting only .179 against him. (Career average is .252) His WHIP of 0.85 reminds one of another lefty named Kershaw, and Keuchel does all this without a dominating fastball. What is Keuchel's strength, according to Statcast, is the lefty has thrown a MLB-high 12.4 percent of his pitches on the corners of the strike zone this season, which is the highest rate in baseball for anyone with at least 250 total pitches. And if you watch him pitch, they are on the low corners. Keuchel is 4-2 vs. the Yankees with a nasty 1.42 ERA career.

Is Michael Pineda (3-1, 3.12 ERA) finally reaching his true potential? After an ugly opening outing, Pineda has a 2.32 ERA in his past five starts, all New York victories. Pineda has always had domineering stuff, he just always did not throw enough strikes. Thus far in 2017, he's harnessed his skills over 34 2/3 innings with 43 strikeouts and mere five walks. Pineda has been either good or bad against Houston with 2-2 record and 4.75 ERA.

 

Both Teams Bring The Lumber

In the American League, the Bronx Bombers have the No. 1 offense at 5.8 runs per game and the Astros are No. 4 at 4.9 RPG. Both teams are impressive in home/road scenarios. The Yankees hitters are extremely comfortable at Yankee Stadium, scoring a hard to fathom 6.8 RPG. No wonder they are 12-3 at home!

Houston is a more mature team from the breakout club two years ago and has added former Yankees Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann. Add maturity to talent and it becomes obvious why the Astros are 9-5 on the road and scoring 5.4 RPG.

 

Betting Odds, History & Bullpen Numbers

The MLB odds have New York as a -115 favorite with a total 7.5. The 'Stros have a modest 4-3 edge the last couple of years in the Bronx and the 'over' is 5-2. Though their save percentages are not best in the AL, these are two of the best bullpens in the league and they hold the opposition to under a .200 batting average.

 

The Winner Is ... 

The value appears to be with Houston as the underdog with better pitcher. Nonetheless, this Yankees team is awesome at home and is 14-3 against winning teams, which is hard to ignore. Time to side with New York on the MLB Network tonight.

MLB Free Pick: Yankees -115Best Line Offered: Heritage

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