The New York Yankees approached the offseason with a chip on their shoulder the size of Minute Maid Park. The Houston Astros beat the Yankees in seven games during a classic American League Championship Series this past October. And since then, the Yankees have once again become the “Evil Empire.” But what exactly does that mean moving forward?
The Astros are in no rush to start offering huge contracts to free agents or make a ton of trades to improve the best team in MLB. However, the Yankees are doing the exact opposite. For a team that came within a game of playing in the World Series, no one knows better than the Yankees that a great season can easily turn into one of heartbreak the next.
The Astros officially became the underdog to love last season, well, everyone except the Yankees did. The Astros were the feel-good story of the 2017 season, and with one offseason, the Yankees are making a play for their crown, which begs the question: Are the Hoston Astros and New York Yankees the new must-see rivalry in baseball?
While many will still point to the Yankees and Boston Red Sox as the must-see battle, however, judging from the ALCS, the tide has changed. That’s what the Giancarlo Stanton trade was all about. The Yankees were in no need of another slugger who can smash long homers, what they needed was an intimidator for Justin Verlander, Lance McCullers Jr., and Dallas Kuechel.
Justin Verlander goes 9 innings with 13 strikeouts against Yankees…
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) October 14, 2017
According to Sports Reference, during the series, those three pitchers stymied the Yankees hitters to the tune of six runs and 48 strikeouts to go with three wins and one save. Will Stanton be the deciding factor if they were to meet up again in the playoffs? No one knows, but watching Verlander take the mound to face a possible lineup of Stanton, Aaron Judge, and Gary Sanchez is what October baseball is all about.
The Yankees can hang their hat on their 27 championships, but it’s what’s done in the present that has fans excited again for the Bombers. The Red Sox will still pose a threat to the Yankees but Brain Cashman didn’t take a risk this offseason to beat Mookie Betts and Chris Sale.
The ultimate goal is championship No. 28, and right now, the Houston Astros are standing in the New York Yankees way.