Were the Astros caught by the Yankees after signing Rodon?

Costas may have been a little harsh in his shooting after Game 3 of the 2022 ALCS, but it’s hard to argue with his rating of the two franchises since 2017. The Astros are 12-5 against New York in playoff contests over the last six seasons. They finished off the Baby Bombers’ magical run in 2017, then delivered a devastating blow in the 2019 ALCS with Jose Altuve’s home run in Game 6. The 2022 edition of the rivalry lacked such drama. Houston dispatched New York in a tidy four-game sweep, then captured their second title in franchise history shortly thereafter. Meanwhile, the Yankees are still waiting for their first title since 2009.

The Astros were a clear class above the Yankees in 2022, but the advantage probably won’t be so clear in 2023. New York retained Aaron Judge as well as first baseman – and Houston free agent target Anthony Rizzo this offseason, then made a big splash tonight. Thursday. With Justin Verlander out of the Houston rotation, Carlos Rodon is now joining New York, bringing with him the eighth-best baseball ERA+ among rookies over the past two seasons. Embarrassment at the hands of the Astros may have forced Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner to spend as much as his father was familiar with. We’ll see if it makes it to the Commissioner’s Cup next November.

So how do the league’s leading powers stack up as we head into 2023? Let’s evaluate the situation of the two teams.


Possibly the two best MLS players reside in the Lone Star State as the Rangers’ $500 million double-play duo tops a Texans desperate for a playoff spot. As for the Astros, this is a very balanced group, as Jose Abreu joins three players with at least 4.5 wins above replacement in 2022. Abreu is the MVP ex. Jose Altuve is a future Hall of Famer. The left side of the field is likely to be stronger than the right side duo in 2023, with World Series MVP Jeremy Peña joining the now healthy and always reliable Alex Bregman. Few, if any, teams across the league field such an impressive quartet of forwards.

New York faces a very muddled picture, as the only first base situation has been completely settled after Rizzo’s return. Jaliber Torres is a steady trade candidate at second base. Isaiah Kiner-Falefa was benched in the postseason, but could be the opening day shortstop for the franchise if prospect Anthony Volpe isn’t quite ready. Third base might be the strangest situation ever for the Yankees. Josh Donaldson has been expensive and unproductive in his 36 season with New York. DJ LeMahieu is facing recovery from a foot injury he’s worriedly described as “difficult”. There’s no real comparison between New York and Houston right now, even after the Yankees’ spending spree.


Both of the following statements could be true: Aaron Judge won’t hit 62 home runs in 2023. He’s also likely still the MVP between Houston and New York after being awarded a $360 million contract. Not only does Judge have historic powerhouse skill, but he’s evolved into one of the most complete hitters in the game, leading the American League in walks and on-base percentage in 2022. Add in 16 grabs and an impressive defense in right field—and a passable performance in Center – and Judge is probably the best all-rounder in baseball outside of Shohei Ohtani.

However, the outside picture is much closer between the Astros and Yankees than Judge’s superiority would suggest. Houston left fielder Yordan Alvarez hit 37 home runs in 135 games last season, and only 11 players since 2000 have had a better season in OPS+ than the 187th hit by Alvarez in 2022. Right fielder Kyle Tucker hits 60 home runs and 39 steals last time. two seasons. Houston still faces questions in Centerfield. Giancarlo Stanton is never a guarantee of a full season in the Bronx. However, despite any question marks, these two stadiums are poised to be some of the most star-studded stadiums in baseball in 2023.

Spin start

This could be a pivotal point in New York’s favor after the 2022 ALCS as the Astros double New York’s hitting production with 50 Ks via a four-game sweep. The Yankees sorely lacked depth behind Gerrit Cole last season, while Houston’s Cristian Javier and Framper Valdez edged Justin Verlander by just two sets over 18 1/3 innings in the World Series. This inequality was perhaps the most notable aspect of Houston’s run with the Yankees on their way to the Fall Classic.

Verlander is now in Queens alongside Max Scherzer, and the rival Mets appear to have added a legitimate partner to Cole in Rodon. It’s possible that the sheer depth of Houston’s turnover still gave Dusty Baker’s side a minor advantage going into Opening Day, though the Yankees now look like they have the stuff to make a legitimate championship come October.


The Yankees Bulls’ health collapsed in the 2022 postseason, and the unit was unreliable to manager Aaron Boone in the ALCS. As for Becker, he seemed to hit the right button no matter who came off the roster. Brian Abreu and Ryan Pressley have not allowed a single run in their 22 1/3 innings pitched. No Houston reliever has sported an ERA over 2.00. When the Astros captured another championship last month, their team was an unsung champion.

The state of both Bulls could look a lot different in the late summer of 2023, as injuries and trade deadline deals shape the shape of the playoff race. Right now, Baker can easily rest with perhaps the most electric bullpen in the sport.

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