By the end of tonight, the Los Angeles Dodgers will know whether they'll spar with the Houston Astros or the New York Yankees in the 2017 World Series. The ALCS is currently tied 3-3, and tonight's winner-take-all game starts at 8:08 p.m. EST at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas.
The Pitching MatchupSome of the biggest drama surrounding this decisive Game 7, aside from which team will prove victorious, is the pitching choice made by Houston Astros manager A.J. Hinch. Although he gave up seven runs in Game 3, Charlie Morton is set to take the hill tonight. The right-handed pitcher had a successful regular season with 14 wins and a 3.62 ERA. However, in three career postseason games, Morton hasn't gotten a single victory and has amassed an ugly 7.24 ERA.
Meanwhile, the New York Yankees have pinned their World Series hopes on 37-year-old CC Sabathia. During a 17-year career, the workhorse has put together an impressive .619 win-loss percentage. Sabathia also has 10 career postseason wins, and he held the Houston Astros to only three hits and zero runs in Game 3 of the ALCS.
Perhaps the most foreboding part about this pitching matchup for Astros fans is the fact that it's a rematch of Game 3, which the Yankees won 8-1. In other words, if Sabathia and Morton pitch the same way they did five days ago, the New York Yankees will be headed to the World Series.
ALCS 2017 Game 6 RecapGame 6 of the ALCS found former Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander baffling the Yankees lineup for the second time in less than a week. The Astros won 7-1, tied the series and forced tonight's Game 7 due to the strength of Verlander's pitching performance. Another major factor in the Astros Game 6 victory was the stellar hitting of Jose Altuve, including 3 RBIs and a home run.
During the postgame interview, Altuve expressed his appreciation for Verlander's win streak by saying, "I literally love Justin Verlander." This was followed a couple of hours later by Verlander tweeting to Altuve, "I literally love you too."
Could Justin Verlander Take the Hill Again Tonight?In the regular world of baseball, no starting pitcher ever makes appearances on back-to-back days. This is the playoffs, though, which means that all of these typical rules are thrown out the window. Verlander has already appeared in relief once this postseason when he picked up the win in Game 4 of the ALDS versus the Boston Red Sox. That was Verlander's first time pitching as a reliever during his entire professional career.
The Houston Astros have only been to the World Series once, and they were swept by the Chicago World Sox. This was back in 2005 when the Astros were still part of the NL. The Astros have played in the AL since 2013. During their 55-year history, the Houston Astros, once known as the Houston Colt.45s, have only won a league pennant one time.
With this type of history, it's no wonder that the team's management is hungry enough for a win tonight that Verlander is considered available as a relief pitcher. After all, if the Houston Astros lose tonight, their World Series hopes will be dashed yet again, so it makes sense to put everything they've got on the field during the final game of the 2017 ALCS versus the New York Yankees.
[Featured Image by Al Bello/Getty Images]