Astros right-handed ace Justin Verlander, one of baseball’s most accomplished postseason pitchers, will start Game 2 of the American League Championship Series on Sunday night against the Yankees at Minute Maid Park as Houston tries to even the series before it heads to New York.
The Yankees will start lefty James Paxton, who is 7-2 with a 2.54 ERA in 10 starts against the Astros since the start of 2017.
In postseason history, Game 1 winners in a best-of-seven series have won the series 112 of 176 times (64 percent). In all series with the current 2-3-2 format, teams winning Game 1 on the road have gone on to take the series 36 of 64 times (56 percent). Last year, the Astros won Game 1 of the ALCS in Boston before losing four in a row.
When is the game and how can I watch it?
Game 2 will be on FS1 at 8 p.m. ET/7 CT on Sunday.
All games telecast on TBS, FOX and FS1 will be available to MLB.TV subscribers who are authenticated subscribers to the applicable network through a participating pay TV provider.
What are the starting lineups?
Yankees: After using the same lineup for all three games in the AL Division Series sweep of the Twins, manager Aaron Boone shuffled his order for Game 1 of the ALCS, with the most prominent change being a bump of Gleyber Torres to the No. 3 spot. Torres rewarded the skipper with a five-RBI performance, so Boone kept him there for Game 2. Cameron Maybin got the start in left field in place of Giancarlo Stanton, who is dealing with a right quad strain he sustained running up the first-base line in his first at-bat in Game 1.
1) DJ LeMahieu, 1B
2) Aaron Judge, RF
3) Gleyber Torres, 2B
4) Edwin Encarnacion, DH
5) Brett Gardner, CF
6) Gary Sánchez, C
7) Gio Urshela, 3B
8) Cameron Maybin, LF
9) Didi Gregorius, SS
Astros: Despite facing a left-hander in Paxton, Astros manager AJ Hinch gave Michael Brantley the start in left field, though the skipper also put Jake Marisnick in center field and moved George Springer to right, giving two right-handed-hitting outfielders to go along with his all right-handed-hitting infield:
1) George Springer, RF
2) Michael Brantley, LF
3) José Altuve, 2B
4) Alex Bregman, 3B
5) Yordan Alvarez, DH
6) Yuli Gurriel, 1B
7) Carlos Correa, SS
8) Robinson Chirinos, C
9) Jake Marisnick, CF
Who are the starting pitchers?
Yankees: Paxton was the Yanks’ Game 1 starter in the ALDS sweep of the Twins, and he allowed three runs over 4 2/3 innings. During the regular season, he set career highs in wins and starts in his first year with New York, going 15-6 with a 3.82 ERA in 29 starts.
Paxton faced the Astros twice this season, going 1-1 with a 6.00 ERA. He allowed five runs on eight hits in four innings on April 10 at Minute Maid Park, a start in which it was later revealed -- thanks to the sharp eye of former big leaguer Carlos Beltrán -- that the left-hander was tipping his pitches with runners at second base.
When Paxton faced Houston again on June 21 at Yankee Stadium, the results were better. Paxton limited the Astros to one run on five hits over five innings, striking out seven with three walks in a 4-1 Yankees victory. Incorporating his curveball more, Paxton had a 10-start winning streak from Aug. 2-Sept. 21, the longest of his career.
Astros: Verlander, who led the Majors in opponent batting average (.172), WHIP (0.80) and innings pitched (223) in the regular season while going 21-6 with 300 strikeouts, will make his third postseason start of 2019. He faced the Rays twice in the ALDS, allowing four earned runs on eight hits and six walks over 10 2/3 innings.
Verlander faced the Yankees twice in the regular season and allowed three runs each time. On April 8 in Houston, he pitched six innings, and on June 23 in New York, he struck out nine over seven innings.
Verlander’s 14 postseason wins are tied with Tom Glavine for third most in MLB history, trailing only Andy Pettitte (19) and John Smoltz (15). His 180 postseason strikeouts rank third behind Smoltz (199) and Pettitte (183).
How will the bullpens line up after the starter?
Yankees: The Yanks will be rested and ready, thanks to Tanaka’s six-inning effort in the series opener. They would love to hand a lead to their “four horsemen” of Zack Britton, Aroldis Chapman, Tommy Kahnle and Adam Ottavino. Veteran starters J.A. Happ and CC Sabathia remain available out of the bullpen.
Astros: Verlander is starting, which means the Astros are hoping to follow the script of their ace going seven innings before handing the ball to Will Harris and Roberto Osuna. Houston is carrying an extra pitcher in the ALCS, so veteran Brad Peacock could be called upon to get out of a tough spot with men on base with his slider against right-handers.
Are there any relievers who are unavailable?
Yankees: Ottavino, Britton and Jonathan Loaisiga worked an inning each in Game 1, but all should be able to see the mound. Britton threw the most pitches of that trio with 17. It’s possible the Yanks could be cautious with Britton, who had an injury scare when he rolled his right ankle in Game 3 of the ALDS.
Astros: Ryan Pressly (21 pitches) and Bryan Abreu (24 pitches) were the only of the Astros’ four relievers who appeared in Game 1 to throw more than 20 pitches. Pressly is likely available in Game 2, but Hinch may try to stay away from the rookie Abreu, especially in a close game.
Any injuries of note?
Yankees: Britton’s right ankle was perhaps the only significant concern going into the ALCS, but an MRI exam revealed Stanton's quad strain. With an off-day on Monday after Game 2, Boone said the Yankees weren't ready to take Stanton off the ALCS roster, adding that the slugger is available as a pinch-hitting option tonight.
Who is hot and who is not?
Yankees: Torres is sizzling hot, batting .471 (8-for-17) with four doubles, two homers and nine RBIs in four postseason games. Judge had two hits in the ALCS opener and is 5-for-14 (.357) this postseason. Sánchez had a Game 1 single but is 2-for-12 (.167) in the playoffs, while Gardner is 3-for-16 (.188) this postseason.
Astros: Springer (3-for-25), Michael Brantley (5-for-23) and Correa (3-for-22) have scuffled this postseason. Bregman is hitting .316 with a homer and three RBIs, and Altuve is hitting .348 with three homers and five RBIs.
Anything else fans might want to know?
Altuve has a 10-game postseason hitting streak, tying Lance Berkman for second longest on the Astros’ all-time list. (Springer hit safely in 14 playoff games in a row from 2017-18.) … Torres has an eight-game postseason hitting streak, batting .400 (12-for-30) since Game 1 of the 2018 ALDS against the Red Sox.
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and Facebook.
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.