This matchup between two of baseball's biggest villains contains a fair amount of injury storylines, especially in the New York Yankees' bullpen. Each team won over 61% of their games during the regular season, but both are missing key pieces that got them to the playoffs.
Houston Astros - SIC score 88.7
Houston Astros left fielder Yordan Alvarez has been dealing with power-sapping soreness stemming from what the Pro Baseball Docs believe was a midseason hook of hamate injury.
Alvarez had just 1 home run with a .312 slugging percentage in August, but bounced back with 6 home runs in September and October while hitting .355.
Lance McCullers Jr. missed most of the season with a flexor tendon strain and Justin Verlander missed a few weeks with a calf strain, but the latter has been exceptional in his return from Tommy John surgery.
McCullers finished with a 2.27 ERA in 8 starts, while Verlander had an AL-leading 18 wins and an MLB-best 1.75 ERA in 28 starts.
New York Yankees - SIC score 77.1
The Yankees have the worst health score of any remaining playoff team.
The biggest issue might be in the bullpen, where right-hander Michael King has been the biggest loss. He suffered a fractured elbow in late July, while Zack Britton was shut down for the season.
Clay Holmes recently suffered a shoulder injury in late September and only recently returned to the bullpen. Holmes has pitched in four games, allowing 6 hits and striking out 5 in 3 1/3 innings.
Aroldis Chapman’s season was derailed with lingering Achilles tendonitis in May and he later missed time with a leg infection. By the time he returned for good in early August, he’d lost a significant role in the bullpen and has been left off of the playoff roster.
Outfielders Matt Carpenter and Andrew Benintendi have missed significant time after suffering foot and hand fractures, respectively. Carpenter is back on the active roster, but Benintendi is not expected back until a potential World Series appearance.
Fellow outfielder Aaron Hicks has been ruled out for the remainder of the playoffs but was minimally involved down the stretch.
DJ LeMahieu is also not on the playoff roster after suffering toe inflammation late in the season. Gleyber Torres and Oswaldo Cabrera have been relied upon to replace his production, but have fallen short thus far.
Anthony Rizzo missed the first three weeks of September with a back issue and corresponding epidural, while Giancarlo Stanton missed 28 games between late July and late August with left Achilles tendonitis.
For injury-based picks based on our health score algorithm, sign up for SIC Picks here.
Sports Injury Central is the home of Pro Football Doc – the FanDuel Official Injury Expert – and a leading panel of former team physicians from the NFL, CFB, NBA, and MLB. The team analyzes injuries to give fans an edge with their wagering and fantasy sports activities.