The Yankees have done a lot this year, but they haven’t faced the Astros yet.
Outside of the Red Sox, games against the Astros are arguably the hottest on the Yankees schedule. As the Yankees headed home in the middle of the night after their last streak in Tampa, manager Aaron Boone was asked if seeing the Astros could boost the team after their late-night trip.
“One of the cool things about Yankee Stadium, especially this year, is we got that juice,” Boone said. “I would definitely expect that after a road trip, we’ll go for a walk tonight and they’ll be pretty energized.”
The Astros have established themselves as the second-best team in the American League. In a normal year, their 43-25 record would likely be enough to put them in the top seed position in the AL. But the Yankees played a brand of baseball the Bronx hasn’t seen since the mighty 1998 team won 114 games, going 11-2 in the playoffs en route to a World Series championship.
This Yankees-Astros series, especially with the added caveat that this is their first meeting of 2022, is shaping up to be very competitive. Riddled with excellent pitching matchups and several deserving All-Stars in both dugouts, Boone and his troops are ready for a war.
“They are complete,” Boone assessed the Astros. “They have exceptional depth in their bullpen, a really good starting pitch, they catch the ball, they are athletic. They are probably as complete a team as the one we played. You know it’s going to be a challenge.
Houston’s 43 wins, plus-61 point differential, 114 wRC+ and 3.04 collective ERA all rank second in the American League behind the Yankees. The Astros’ position players have combined for 12.9 wins over substitution (the Yankees’ 14.8 makes them the only team in the AL with more) and their pitching team registers at 9, 1 WAR, behind just 11.4 of the Yankees in the American League standings.
Of course, with the Astros and Yankees, the elephant in the room is always the 2017 and 2019 American League Championship Series. tarnished by the Astros cheating scandal. Boone was asked if that added an import to the series, even though it was just four regular-season games in June.
“To me, that’s history,” Boone said. “I think it’s a hit in the arm series in a tough time. The rivalry that certainly exists also has something to do with some past things. I think our guys are looking forward to that and love playing on the big stages against the top teams.
SCHMIDT TO SCRANTON
Clarke Schmidt was optioned to return to Triple-A on Thursday morning.
Albert Abreu, the former Yankee who joined the team after being waived off Kansas City on Tuesday, is back on the active roster. Fellow right-hander reliever David McKay was traded to Tampa Bay for cash considerations after being designated for an assignment Tuesday. Boone spoke about the decision-making process in Schmidt’s demotion.
“I think there’s a lot of home value going down and starting,” he began. “Maybe he can go down for three or four weeks and get a handful of starts while long-term building some volume going forward if he’s going to be a starter for us this year or later.
“As for staying on the [big league] roster he has shown that he belongs and deserves to be here,” Boone added. “I think he’s made huge progress from where he was last year. I feel like he’s a much better pitcher.
Schmidt, who has a 3.00 ERA in 24 innings this season, was on the Yankees’ opening day roster but has been back and forth between minors and majors for most of the season. ‘year. Although the overall numbers look decent, Schmidt still hasn’t kicked his walking habit. A problem that has also plagued him during his minor league run, Schmidt issued a free pass to 12.2% of the batters he faced in 2022.
If he can straighten up, Schmidt’s stuff makes him an intriguing arm, especially with Chad Green out the rest of the year with injury. The same can be said for Abreu, who pitched 28 games for the Bombers in 2021.
“Hopefully we can bring him back to what we saw in the second half of last year, which was a guy who threw the ball incredibly well,” Boone said of Abreu. “If you remember, last year in the home stretch we were throwing him in important situations and he was doing the job.”
In a world where hitting has become optional for most MLB catchers, Jose Trevino has set up a sneaky All-Star case.
Over its last 25 games, the unheralded backstop crushes .353/.408/.662. In that span, eight of his 24 hits have gone for extra bases, including six homers and one of 12 triples by a catcher this year. For the season, Trevino is second among AL receivers in Wins Above Replacement. He trails only Torontonian Alejandro Kirk, who has played 15 other games.
Not bad for someone who replaced Ben Rortvedt on the Yankees depth chart.