World Series 2017 Predictions: Full Schedule and Picks for Fall Classic

A team that won its first World Series in 108 years last season, a team that hasn't made the Fall Classic since 1988, a team that has won 27 championships and a team that is looking for its first make up the quartet of rosters remaining in the MLB playoffs.

Here's a look at the remaining playoff schedule, alongside picks for the American League Championship Series, the National League Championship Series and the World Series.

                

American League Championship Series

Game 3 (Houston at New York): Monday, October 16 at 8 p.m. ET. on FS1

Game 4 (Houston at New York): Tuesday, October 17 at 5 p.m. ET. on FS1

*Game 5 (Houston at New York): Wednesday, October 18 at 5 p.m. ET. on FS1

*Game 6 (New York at Houston): Friday, October 20 at 8 p.m. ET. on FS1

*Game 7 (New York at Houston): Saturday, October 21 at 8 p.m. ET. on FS1

*If necessary

            

ALCS Prediction

Houston Astros starters Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander combined for 16 innings of one-run ball and 23 strikeouts against the Yankees in Games 1 and 2, respectively.

The Yanks might get to the other starters on their pitching staff, but they're slated to face Keuchel and Verlander once more each time should the series stretch to six games.

Unless the Yankees somehow break out against one of the two aces, it's hard seeing the Bronx Bombers defeating either pitcher.

The one distinct advantage the Yankees have over the Astros is the bullpen. New York's is deep and one of the best in baseball, while Houston's finished just 17th in the majors in ERA.

If the Yankees take the next two games and somehow draw even on the nights they face Keuchel and Verlander, then they have the advantage. That being said, New York's starters might have to be near perfect to pull off that feat, and that's asking too much.

The Yankees have had a great and unexpected run this season, but Keuchel and Verlander will finish the Bronx Bombers at the tail end of a six-game series.

Pick: Astros in 6

                

National League Championship Series

Game 3 (Los Angeles at Chicago): Tuesday, October 17 at 9 p.m. ET. on TBS

Game 4 (Los Angeles at Chicago): Wednesday, October 18 at 9 p.m. ET. on TBS

*Game 5 (Los Angeles at Chicago): Thursday, October 19 at 8 p.m. ET. on TBS

*Game 6 (Chicago at Los Angeles): Saturday, October 21 at 4 p.m. ET. on TBS

*Game 7 (Chicago at Los Angeles): Sunday, October 22 at 7:30 p.m. ET. on TBS

*If necessary

                      

NLCS Prediction

The Los Angeles Dodgers jumped out to a 2-0 National League Championship Series lead thanks to a game-winning home run from Justin Turner in the bottom of the ninth inning on Sunday.

L.A. will look to use that momentum as the series shifts toward Chicago for at least two more games (and potentially three).

Expect the Cubs crowd to be raucous in favor of the home side, especially if they jump out to an early lead. That's a decided advantage for home teams in the playoffs provided they have fans who will be loud all game.

Look for Chicago to take Game 3 behind the strong pitching of Kyle Hendricks, who allowed just 17 home runs and pitched to a 3.03 ERA this year.

However, the Dodgers look like they have the advantage in Game 4 when Alex Wood takes the mound. Wood's ability to induce ground balls while striking out nearly a batter per inning has been remarkable, and he's earned a 2.72 ERA along the way in addition to an All-Star appearance.

He'll shut down the Cubs in Game 4, and then look for Clayton Kershaw to close out the series in Game 5. Kershaw has had trouble with the long ball in the playoffs (five in two games), but he's still the best pitcher this decade. In a closeout game, it's hard to bet against him.

Pick: Dodgers in 5

            

World Series

Game 1: Tuesday, October 24 on FOX

Game 2: Wednesday, October 25 on FOX

Game 3: Friday, October 27 on FOX

Game 4: Saturday, October 28 on FOX

*Game 5: Sunday, October 29 on FOX

*Game 6: Tuesday, October 31 on FOX

*Game 7: Wednesday, November 1 on FOX

               

World Series Prediction

The Astros' deep and balanced roster has given opposing pitchers fits all season.

Everyone in their lineup, from batters one through nine, can hit for power. Their top three hitters (Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and George Springer) were All-Stars, and Altuve might end up being the American League's Most Valuable Player.

Two other regulars (Josh Reddick and Marwin Gonzalez) hit over .300. Yuli Gurriel nearly joined them but fell just short at .299. Eleven players smacked 12 or more home runs.

Overall, they finished first in numerous hitting categories (e.g. batting average and runs) and took second in homers. 

Houston's lineup will suit the Astros well when playing in National League ballparks, as they have numerous options on both sides of the plate in pinch-hitting situations when manager A.J. Hinch decides to take out his pitcher or make a substitution.

That will be the difference in a series against the Dodgers, who have a deeper pitching staff but can't match the Astros in terms of their tremendous ability to hit for power and average.

Pick: Astros in 6

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ALCS Schedule 2017: Game Time, TV Coverage and Odds for Astros vs. Yankees

After two tough defeats in Houston, you might expect there to be some discomfort in the New York Yankees locker room. You would be wrong.

The Yankees found themselves in an 0-2 position against the Cleveland Indians in the American League Division Series and came back to win three straight games against a team that was thought by many to be the best in baseball.

They know what they have to do, and New York has confidence it can do it. The Yankees dropped back-to-back 2-1 games to the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park, but they believe the hitting can get back on track at Yankee Stadium Tuesday night at 8:08 p.m. ET. FS1 will televise the game.

"Offensively, I'd like to think we can only get better, especially going back to Yankee Stadium, where we play really well," left fielder Brett Gardner said, per Ken Davidoff of the New York Post.

"I know our heads will be held up high," third baseman Todd Frazier said, per Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com. "It's another tough game, losing Game 2. But we have more opportunities now. We're excited to be playing at home. I know our fans are going to be ready to go and be loud. It's going to be a different story at our place."

The Yankees will send CC Sabathia to the mound against Charlie Morton of the Astros. Sabathia was a 14-5 during the regular season with a 3.69 ERA in 148.2 innings of work. Morton was 14-7 this season with a 3.62 earned-run average, and he had a better than 3-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

The Yankees are minus-124 favorites (wager $124 to win $100) to win Game 3, according to OddsShark. The Astros are plus-114 underdogs (wager $100 to win $114) to take a 3-0 series lead.

New York will depend on its power bats to get back in the series. The two main sources are Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez, but those two will have plenty of support back in the Bronx.

Judge hit a rookie-record 52 home runs during the regular season, but the postseason has been a painful struggle. The 25-year-old is hitting .129 with one home run and four RBI, and he has struck out 19 times in 37 plate appearances. Sanchez hammered 33 regular-season home runs, but he is also having a difficult time in the playoffs. He is hitting .176 with two homers and three RBI, and he has fanned 15 times. 

Didi Gregorius is hitting .214, but he has belted three home runs and driven in six runs, while Greg Bird is hitting .250 with three home runs and six RBI.

The Astros are having no problems with their hitting or scoring runs. It starts with Jose Altuve, who has 13 hits in the playoffs and is hitting .565. Three of those hits have been home runs, and he has driven in four runs while scoring seven.

Yuli Gurriel is also punishing opposing pitchers with a .500 average, and other hot hitters for the Astros include Evan Gattis (.400), Carlos Correa (.292, with three HR and nine RBI) and George Springer (.292, with one HR and four runs scored).

If the Yankees are going to get back in the series, Sabathia has to find a way to keep Houston's hot hitters in check.

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MLB Trade Rumors: Breaking Down Buzz on Giancarlo Stanton, Randal Grichuk, More

While the MLB postseason has been thrilling, the majority of the league is already looking ahead to next season. Between free agency and the trade market, 26 MLB organizations are already examining the moves they could potentially make to ensure they are playing in October come next season.

One player sure to be at the center of trade rumors all postseason and offseason is Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton. And the fact that Stanton could potentially be moved makes sense from two different perspectives.

Firstly, Stanton is a superstar and plenty of teams would love to acquire his services. According to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, the San Francisco Giants have shown the most interest in acquiring the slugger, with the St. Louis Cardinals, Philadelphia Phillies and a few other teams showing interest in Stanton over the summer.

One reason the Giants might make sense for Stanton, according to Heyman, is that the team could turn things around and be a contender quicker than a team like the Phillies. It's believed that Stanton doesn't want to be a part of a rebuild.

But Stanton also reportedly is interested in playing for a coastal team, leaving the Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox as possibilities as well.

That's the first thing to take into consideration in these rumors. The second angle comes from the fact that the Miami Marlins reportedly want to trim their payroll from the $115 million mark in 2017 down to somewhere closer to the $90 million range in 2018, per Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald.

Stanton, meanwhile, is due $25 million next year and $295 million over the remainder of his contract.

While other players could be on the move as well—Spencer cited others such as Marcell Ozuna, Christian Yelich and Dee Gordon as potential trade chips—Stanton would be the player to move if cutting payroll is the team's primary goal for 2018. Not only would moving him help Miami accomplish that goal, he could also bring back a solid package of prospects for the Marlins.

After all, Stanton is fresh off a season that saw him hit .281 with 59 homers and 132 RBI. He's in the peak of his career, turning 28 in November, and when he's healthy is arguably the best power hitter in baseball. 

So Stanton could very well be on the move. If nothing else, he'll be the center of rumors for the foreseeable future.

On the less high-profile front, the St. Louis Cardinals has something of a logjam in the outfield, with seven players capable of filling out three spots. That could leave Randal Grichuk on the trade block.

According to Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com, "In an effort to reduce roster redundancies, the Cardinals are expected to dangle various outfielders as possible trade pieces while the organization seeks to address other deficiencies."

Langosch described Grichuk's fit with the organization going forward as "tenuous." The outfielder himself even appeared to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

"No. Not necessarily," he said when asked if he saw himself in the Cardinals' plans for next year. "But who knows. Anything is possible. It's going to be a fun offseason. It's going to be an interesting offseason to see what direction the club goes with a lot of guys. I'm excited to see what the future holds."

The 26-year-old had an up-and-down season with the Cardinals in 2017, hitting .238 with 22 homers and 59 RBI in 122 games. As Langosch wrote, he's flashed bursts of major upside but suffered from just as many bouts of inconsistency. 

Given the team's bevy of options in the outfield, it's the latter that very well could make him expendable this offseason.

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NLCS Schedule 2017: Updated TV Guide and Cubs vs. Dodgers Series Predictions

Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner hit a game-ending three-run homer to give his team a 4-1 Game 2 victory over the Chicago Cubs in the National League Championship Series on Sunday.

L.A. is now just two wins away from reaching its first World Series since 1988, when it defeated the heavily favored Oakland Athletics in five games.

Here's a look at the remaining NLCS television schedule, as well as predictions for how the rest of the series will shake out.

                 

National League Championship Series

Game 3 (Los Angeles at Chicago): Tuesday, October 17 at 9 p.m. ET. on TBS

Game 4 (Los Angeles at Chicago): Wednesday, October 18 at 9 p.m. ET. on TBS

*Game 5 (Los Angeles at Chicago): Thursday, October 19 at 8 p.m. ET. on TBS

*Game 6 (Chicago at Los Angeles): Saturday, October 21 at 4 p.m. ET. on TBS

*Game 7 (Chicago at Los Angeles): Sunday, October 22 at 7:30 p.m. ET. on TBS

*If necessary

                  

NLCS Predictions

Cubs Take Game 3

Raise your hand if you remember Kyle Hendricks finished top three in the National League Cy Young voting last year.

Hendricks is one of the more unheralded pitchers in baseball, but all he does is go to the mound and limit the damage on a nightly basis. He didn't give up more than three earned runs in his last 13 regular-season starts this year. On eight of those occasions, the 27-year-old shut out his opponent or allowed just one earned run.

He's also an excellent postseason pitcher, going 2-1 with a 2.60 ERA in nine starts.

The Wrigley Field atmosphere should be electric on Tuesday as the Cubs fans cheer on the hometown team. That, plus the steady pitching of Hendricks, will be enough to give Chicago the victory.

        

Dodgers Fight Back, Win Game 4

Chicago Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta has been phenomenal in his four full seasons with the club, striking out more than a batter per hitting while registering a 64-29 win-loss record and 2.67 ERA. He's also allowed a microscopic .6 home runs per nine innings.

That being said, Arrieta is fighting through a mini-slump, which may be the result of trying to return to form following a Grade 1 hamstring strain suffered during an early September start against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

He was wild in a four-inning outing against Washington in the playoffs, walking five before leaving the game. Arrieta didn't allow any runs, but in three September starts, he allowed seven earned runs in 10.1 innings, giving up five homers as well.

Now he will face a Dodgers team with a lot of pop (their 221 home runs ranked fourth in baseball this year), and that could be problematic. Look for L.A. to hit a homer or two and take a 3-1 series advantage.

          

Dodgers Win the Pennant in 5

Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw has given up five home runs in two postseason games this year, but his bad luck with the home run ball can't continue, right?

This is a pitcher who had a 2.31 ERA in 2017, and that mark is somehow his worst since 2012. He's a seven-time All-Star and three-time NL Cy Young winner. 

Although the postseason hasn't gone as well for Kershaw (4.57 ERA in 20 lifetime appearances), he's still one of the best aces in the game.

In a closeout matchup to go to the World Series, look for Kershaw to throw six or seven strong innings and for the bullpen to shut the door in an exciting, low-scoring victory to clinch L.A.'s first National League pennant since 1988.

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MLB Playoffs 2017: Game Times, TV Coverage and Bracket Picks

The Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers put themselves in terrific position entering the scenery changes in the ALCS and NLCS by building 2-0 series leads over the New York Yankees and Chicago Cubs, respectively. 

Houston benefited from terrific starting pitching, while the Dodgers used a lights-out bullpen and walk-off magic from Justin Turner to open up a gap over the Cubs.

By no means is either series over, especially as the Yankees and Cubs use the off day to their advantage and rest up tired bodies for Games 3 through 5 of their respective series. 

      

Game Times and TV Coverage

ALCS 

Game 3: Astros at Yankees, Monday, October 16, 8:08 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1

Game 4: Astros at Yankees, Tuesday, October 17, 5:08 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1

Game 5 (if necessary): Astros at Yankees, Wednesday, October 18, 5:08 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1

Game 6 (if necessary) Yankees at Astros, Friday, October 20, 8:08 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1

Game 7 (if necessary) Yankees at Astros, Saturday, October 21, 8:08 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1

NLCS

Game 3: Dodgers at Cubs, Tuesday, October 17, 9:08 p.m. ET, TBS

Game 4: Dodgers at Cubs, Wednesday, October 18. 9:08 p.m. ET, TBS

Game 5 (if necessary): Dodgers at Cubs, Thursday, October 19, 8:08 p.m. ET, TBS

Game 6 (if necessary): Cubs at Dodgers, Saturday, October 21, 4:08 p.m. ET, TBS

Game 7 (if necessary) Cubs at Dodgers, Sunday, October 22, 7:38 p.m. ET, TBS 

         

Picks

ALCS

The Astros flexed their muscle on the mound with Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander at Minute Maid Park, but their offense was only able to produce four runs.

The hits Houston was able to get primarily came from the heart of the order. Jose Altuve extended his impressive ALDS into Friday and Saturday with five hits in eight at-bats. Carlos Correa followed Altuve with three hits of his own in the first two games of the series, including a walk-off double in Game 2. 

New York's hits have been more scattered across the order than Houston's, as eight different players recorded a hit in Houston. Aaron Judge also started to put the ball in play following a disastrous strikeout-filled ALDS against the Cleveland Indians. 

But the Yankees are at a disadvantage when it comes to bullpen usage. Chad Green, Tommy Kahnle and David Robertson all pitched two innings in Houston, while Aroldis Chapman was tagged for the game-winning hit in Game 2. Conversely, Houston's bullpen only worked two innings, with Ken Giles recording five outs in Game 1 for a save. 

If CC Sabathia can push into the sixth or seventh inning in Game 3 on Monday, the Yankees will be in much better shape with their arms, but one bad start at home could force Joe Girardi into all-hands-on-deck mode. 

Pick: Astros in 6

     

NLCS 

The Dodgers have all the momentum in the NLCS after winning on Turner's walk-off home run in Game 2. Turner won the game off John Lackey, who was a surprise entrant in the ninth inning with Wade Davis still in the bullpen.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon explained why he counted on Lackey in that situation, per MLB.com's Mark Feinsand: 

Based off the length of the starts in Games 1 and 2, Maddon will have plenty more bullpen decisions to make. Jose Quintana only went five innings in Game 1, and Jon Lester didn't make it out of the fifth in Game 2. 

The Dodgers have experienced the same with their starters, but the big difference in the series so far is their bullpen is getting the job done. The Dodgers bullpen has not given up a hit or walked a batter in the first two games of the NLCS. 

It isn't a good sign for the Cubs that two of their seven hits at Dodger Stadium on Saturday and Sunday came off the bats of Quintana and Lester. Luckily for the Cubs, they've hit two home runs, but that's about all they can brag about at the plate. 

On the other hand, the Dodgers have 13 hits, with six of them coming from Turner and Cody Bellinger in the No. 2 and No. 3 spots in the order. Yasiel Puig has also been a vital asset for Dave Roberts' team in the NLCS. Puig was 2-for-4 in Game 1, and he reached base on three walks in Game 2. 

In order to even have a chance against the Dodgers in front of their home crowd, the Cubs have to reverse quite a few trends. It's certainly possible, and a day of rest will do wonders, but change has to start showing in Tuesday's Game 3. 

Pick: Dodgers in 6. 

       

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

All statistics obtained from MLB.com

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Puig Being Puig Is Back: Bat Flips, Tongue Wags Turn Problem Child to Catalyst

Turns out Yasiel Puig—the bat-licking, tongue-wagging, arm-flapping, electricity-generating, sensation-creating, Los Angeles Dodgers-igniting superstar-turned-bust-turned-superstar again—is just like you and me.

"My mom told me, 'You need to listen to people'," Puig told B/R during a recent, quiet conversation at his locker. "They want to help you."

Five years into his MLB career, finally, his ears are wide-open as his mouth and his mind is (mostly) in tune with that of the Dodgers.

When manager Dave Roberts and teammates reach out, Puig (mostly) reaches back.

The results have been stirring, right down to him drawing a leadoff, bottom-of-the-ninth walk before Justin Turner crushed the Chicago Cubs with a walk-off, ninth-inning homer to give the Dodgers a 4-1 Game 2 win and a 2-0 advantage as this National League Championship Series heads back to Chicago.

Puig this season remained a citizen in good standing long enough to play in a career-high 152 games. And following the best all-around season of his career (28 homers, 74 RBI, consistent Gold Glove-caliber defense), he is absolutely crushing it in October.

He batted a scorching .455/.538/.727 to help the Dodgers sweep Arizona in the National League Division Series, then added a double, a homer and two more RBI in the first two games against the Cubs in the NL Championship Series. He now has six RBI in six games this postseason after producing just five RBI in 27 postseason games entering this year. In leading the Dodgers into the NLCS, the way in which he battered the Diamondbacks may turn out to be his most lasting mark on this postseason.

He punctuated plate appearances with gyrating legs like something out of a Michael Jackson video and turned a Game 1 triple into an indelible moment the Dodgers can market from here to eternity: After sliding safely headfirst into the bag, he remained on the ground long enough to soak in the deafening Dodger Stadium roar while staring straight ahead into the Dodgers dugout, sticking out his tongue, lizard-like, and shimmying it back and forth.

 

The place went nuts.

"That's the first time I've seen that one," pitcher Ross Stripling told B/R, chuckling. "I'm anxious to find out who taught it to him.

"We were saying, next year's Yasiel Puig bobblehead, it's gotta be one where his head is still and his tongue is the only thing that moves."

Said Dodgers starter Alex Wood: "He's the best. He does some dumb things sometimes, but we love him."

How Puig worked his way from exile back into relevance is a tale that covers most of the past 24 months, a change in managers, ongoing English lessons, a timeout in Triple-A Oklahoma City last summer and an analytics-heavy Dodgers front office that goes beyond numbers to understand the human condition.

Since Puig's debut in 2013, the Dodgers have exercised Herculean doses of patience with him and, even at that, Puig consistently pushed both his teammates and the front office to the brink. Early on, he earned the nickname "Wild Horse."

But by Andrew Friedman's second season as the club's president of baseball operations in 2016, however, he was beginning to understand something essential: Baseball, Friedman told B/R in the spring of 2016, was failing its Cuban players.

Maybe the way to do things, Friedman argued, wasn't to simply bring in players from other countries and assume they would understand the American way, or force them to understand it. No, there had to be a better way. And that way was better, more personalized communication.

That's where the hiring of Roberts, who replaced Don Mattingly, came in. There were many reasons why Roberts was a great match in Los Angeles, his communication skills chief among them. Roberts checks in with each of his players daily, and maybe none of these individual mini-meetings is as important as those with Puig, whose relationship with Mattingly was, according to B/R sources, broken beyond repair.

Maybe Puig saw something in Roberts. Perhaps Roberts, who was hired in 2016 and was named NL Manager of the Year last season, simply arrived at the right time. Whatever the case, the Japanese-born manager has been able to reach the Cuban-born prodigy in a way that others haven't.

What has impressed Roberts most this year, the manager told B/R, is Puig's "understanding that when things don't go perfect, he's holding himself accountable. And he holds himself to a higher standard, and the way he plays the game on a daily basis reflects that."

Not that the Los Angeles education of Yasiel Puig was without its issues in the Roberts era. Effectively, Puig drained the club of most of its extra reservoir of patience by late last summer with nagging hamstring injuries and sluggish performances. Friedman and Co. tried hard to trade him at the deadline last July 31 and, when those attempts failed, they shipped him to Triple-A Oklahoma City last Aug. 4. He was hitting .260 with just seven homers in 81 games at the time.

It was then that the words from Puig's motherYou need to listen to people! They want to help you!—really, finally began to sink in.

"The last couple of seasons, I don't want to listen to nobody," Puig told B/R. "I only wanted to listen to myself.

"This year is a new year. I'm listening more to the coaches. I'm listening to Dave Roberts and guys like Adrian Gonzalez, who are trying to help me. That's the reason I'm having a better year than the last two years."

Being shipped out got his attention.

"Last year, when the team put me in Oklahoma City for a couple of months … I never listened to nobody, but when I go down there and hang out with the players in the minor leagues, the coaches, they helped me a lot," Puig said. "That's the reason I came back and I do my best.

"Bad things happened last year. And I don't want these things to happen again."

The Dodgers did not and could not know how Puig would react, and there was a thought that perhaps he would never see Dodger Stadium again. After their attempts to deal him fizzled last summer, many expected them to push again for a trade over the winter.

It was a wakeup call, Roberts said of Puig's demotion to Oklahoma City. "All the credit goes to him. We optioned him last year, and he made the most of the opportunity, learned from it, grew from it.

"Even from last year when we recalled him, he's been a different person. I think his care for his teammates and doing the right things is a priority now. And it's good to see him getting rewarded with a tremendous season."

Some of Puig's relationships are coming easier, too, as his English continues to get better and better. Through the Dodgers, he started language lessons shortly after he signed with them and worked extensively with a man named Tim Bravo, a teacher in Las Cruces, New Mexico. "He's the best," Puig raved.

He furthered Bravo's lessons and learned more English by watching movies, especially the Transformers and Fast and Furious series. He's nimble enough now to conduct some media interviews in English, which reveals his playful side even more.

His interplay with teammates, whether it's the daily give-and-take with Wood and others or social media moments with Justin Turner, can be highly entertaining. Roberts regularly kids him. Radio broadcaster Charley Steiner is fond of telling Puig he's going to knock the outfielder "into next week," and Puig feigns boxing.

"I'll be ready," Puig joked regarding Steiner's threats. "I need to [bob and weave]."

Said Roberts: "You know what? He's a very lovable guy. And now his true character and heart are starting to come through. Not only on the field with his play, but with people close to us."

Throughout the organization, the Dodgers are noticing.

"I do think going through some of the adversity he's gone through over the past couple of years has changed his outlook," Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi told B/R. "He has an appreciation for getting to play baseball for a living, and on a winning team."

Zaidi senses that Puig has taken pride in how many games he's played this year, and he thinks that during July and August Puig produced some of the "best at-bats of anybody on the team, and we've had some guys put up some good at-bats." Roberts said the same thing last week, noting that Puig's Game 2 at-bats were the best he'd seen, and added after Puig walked three times in Sunday's NLCS Game 2 win over the Cubs that Puig is "as focused as I've ever seen him."

Now, the man who often has displayed a surly side, getting into spats with everyone from opponents to his own teammates, is the center of fun again in Dodger Stadium.

"This year everything is different," Puig said. "I come to the park and have fun with my teammates. This is my best year because it's not just about baseball. I'm talking with teammates, having fun with teammates, and that helps me feel better."

He hasn't just opened up to teammates. Zaidi noted how much time Puig has spent on community events, with kids, and how much the children of the team's coaches love hanging out with him.

"There's a certain energy and spirit there," Zaidi said. "What's happened over the last couple of years has impacted the way he goes about his business, and he should be really proud of the results."

In the moment after Game 1 last weekend, he was quite proud of the attention his tongue was getting.

"I don't know why, I feel maybe ice cream in front of me or something like that," he quipped.

Roberts, chuckling, said it was "no surprise. … He's called the Wild Horse for a reason."

Roberts, in fact, has developed such a good relationship with Puig that when his mother comes around, she makes a point to say hello to him, too.

"She tells me, 'You better take care of my son,'" Roberts said. "And I do."

            

Scott Miller covers Major League Baseball as a national columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow Scott on Twitter and talk baseball.

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Yankees vs. Astros: ALCS Game 3 TV Schedule, Ticket Info and Odds

After winning consecutive games by 2-1 scores, the Houston Astros will look to take a commanding 3-0 lead in the American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees as the playoff shifts to the Bronx.

Charlie Morton will take the mound for Houston, while CC Sabathia will do the same for New York.

The matchup will take place on Monday night at 8 p.m. ET. on FS1, with the pregame show starting at 7 p.m. ET. Joe Buck will provide play-by-play alongside the color commentary of Hall of Fame pitcher John Smoltz.

MLB.TV subscribers can stream the matchup online, and fans can also watch through Fox Sports Go. Furthermore, anyone can tune into all postseason contests through ESPN Radio (as well as their local carriers for games).

If you want to catch the game live, tickets are still available for purchase through StubHubPer OddsShark, the Yankees are -124 favorites, and the over/under total is set at 8.5 runs.

Here's a look at the four notable questions leading up to Game 3.

            

Will Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa Keep Their Hot Streaks Alive?

The Astros' middle infielders have done the vast majority of the damage against the Yankees through the first two games. Second baseman Jose Altuve is 5-for-8 with a key stolen base and two runs, while shortstop Carlos Correa is 3-for-7 with a home run, a double, two runs and two RBI.

They form a dynamic one-two punch on defense and offense, as they hold the third and fourth spots in the lineup, respectively.

It's pretty simple: Unless the Yankees can find a way to keep Altuve and Correa off the base paths, then this will be a short series.

         

How Will the Yankees' Right-Handers Fare Against Charlie Morton?

The Yankees' right-handed batters have a couple of splits advantages against Morton on Monday night. First, he has allowed an .805 OPS against righties, compared to a .561 mark against lefties.

Secondly, Morton does a little worse away from home (as many pitchers do), as he has a .247 batting average against and 4.17 ERA away from Minute Maid Park (compared to .217 and 3.34 in Houston).

A couple of Yankees right-handers have done well against Morton during their careers: Second baseman Starlin Castro has a .400 batting average, third baseman Todd Frazier sports a 1.365 OPS and designated hitter Matt Holliday has mashed a couple dingers.

In the hitter-friendly park that is Yankee Stadium, the New York bats have an opportunity to wake up against the Astros starter.

         

Can New York Get to the Astros Bullpen Early?

Houston's bullpen may be the team's weakness. For the playoffs, the Astros' relievers have managed just a 5.40 ERA. In the regular season, they pitched to a 4.27 mark, which ranked just 17th out of 30 MLB clubs.

If the Yankees get to the bullpen in the middle innings, then they have an advantage in the latter half of the game. New York's relievers are some of the best in the business, as they've earned a 3.34 ERA this year (good enough for third in the majors). That number has dipped to a microscopic 2.06 mark in the postseason.

Ultimately, the Yankees will strive to make this a bullpen game, taking a litany of pitches in an attempt to tire out the opposing starter. If they can do that for Game 3, then they have the edge.

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World Series 2017: Updated Predictions Before Yankees vs. Astros ALCS Game 3

The Houston Astros held serve at home by winning the first two games of the American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees, but the playoff will now shift to New York in front of a crowd that has been raucous throughout the entire postseason.

Game 3 should be an interesting matchup, and it will take place Monday at 8 p.m. ET, with FS1 televising the contest.

Here's a look at a couple predictions, including a winner and score pick.

         

Starlin Castro and Todd Frazier Smack Key Hits off Charlie Morton

Houston Astros starting pitcher Charlie Morton enjoyed one of his best seasons on the professional level this year, winning 14 games, earning a 3.62 ERA and striking out 163 batters in 146.2 innings.

However, he hasn't found much success against the Yankees. In particular, two Bronx Bombers' stat lines against the 33-year-old stand out.

Second baseman Starlin Castro has hit .400 in 30 lifetime at-bats against Morton, smacking three home runs as well. Third baseman Todd Frazier has an astronomical 1.365 OPS against Morton in 18 at-bats, registering two dingers, a triple and two doubles.

Morton is a reverse-splits pitcher who has done better against lefties (.561 OPS) than righties (.805 OPS) this season. Therefore, the table is set for Castro and Frazier (both righties) to have productive at-bats against the Astros right-hander.

        

Astros Bullpen Struggles in the Late Innings

For the season, Morton has averaged just under six innings per start, and he's hit seven full frames just five times. It's unlikely he'll go deep in this game a la Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander in Games 1 and 2, who went seven and nine strong innings, respectively.

Therefore, we may see the Houston bullpen earlier than usual in Game 3. The Astros' pen has been inconsistent this year, as it finished in the bottom half of the league in ERA. Houston's relievers have struggled a bit in this year's postseason as well with a 5.40 ERA.

The guess here is that the Yankees knock Morton out of the game in the middle frames and get a few insurance runs in the latter half of the contest.

          

Score (and Series) Prediction

Look for the Yankees to hold serve in Game 3 to cut the ALCS deficit in half behind some timely hits, a strong start from CC Sabathia and some shutout innings from the bullpen.

Morton won't get blown up, but the deck is stacked against him in this contest. Take the Yankees by a 6-3 score.

As far as the rest of the series goes, New York will have to face Keuchel and Verlander once each if it is to extend the series to a sixth game.

Keuchel in particular is a matchup nightmare for the Yankees, as he induces a ton of soft contact and ground balls since he is a master at keeping the ball down in the zone. New York has a ton of free-swingers looking to hit the long ball, so that isn't a good mix with the 2015 AL Cy Young winner on the mound.

Ultimately, it's hard seeing this series going past six games given the prowess of the two Houston aces. The Yankees will tie the series at two, but the Astros will respond with two more victories of their own to return to the World Series for the first time since 2005.

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Save $80 on Anker PowerCore+ 26800 Charger, $52 on Anker PowerCore 13000, and $31 on RAVPower Mini Battery Bank

What can’t you leave the house without? I’m sure most of you will answer power bank.

If you ever need more, there are a few on sale on Amazon today.

Anker PowerCore+ 26800

The excellently reviewed Anker PowerCore+ 26800 is a high-capacity power bank that can charge your iPhone 6s 9 times, your Galaxy s6 over 7 times or your MacBook more than thrice. Its PowerCore+ technology charges compatible devices up to 85% faster too. Get it at a 53% discount (only $70) today. If you buy 1, you also get a discount on a second item. Details here.

Anker PowerCore 13000 C

Another power bank on sale is this Anker PowerCore 13000 C. The compact 2-port power bank is well-loved by its reviewers because of its handheld size and high-speed charging. Get it for only $28 instead of $80 today.

RAVPower Luster Mini External Battery Bank

If you’re after a super small power charger that’s enough to recharge your smartphone at least once, then the RAVPower Luster Mini External Battery Bank is the ideal one for you. With a 3350 mAh capacity, it provides an additional 14 hours of talk time or 90 hours of music playback for your phone. It can fit inside the mini pocket of your pants! Yes, it is the smallest charger to date.

 

Nintendo Switch Dock That Doubles As A Projector Coming To Indiegogo This Month

The Nintendo Switch is a great console and seems like it might bring the company back into the golden era of the late 90’s. And while the Switch is promoted as a great portable console, and for single player games it is great, it’s not nearly as playable for multiplayer games outside of having it plugged into a TV. That’s where the OJO wants to make a change.

Made by YesOJO, the OJO Projector is a Nintendo Switch Dock which projects your game to create a 30-120 inch image across a wall in ‘high quality’. The projector is also said to have an HDMI input for plugging in other devices and a 4-hour battery for truly portable gaming. It also has a 3.5mm port for hooking up speakers since there don’t seem to be any on the projector itself, and you probably won’t want to use the Switch’s built in speakers.

The OJO could be a great accessory for anyone for anyone wanting more portability out of their Switch, but like with all Indiegogo campaigns, there’s always a risk of it flat-out sucking (or never being made at all). Instead, wait until it launches next year to try and pick one up.

YesOJO ] VIA [ CNet ]

If Anyone Has A Moto Mod Phone You Can Buy A Polaroid Instant Printer Attachment

Motorola seems to really want Moto Mods to work. Some of the mods you can already buy include a JBL speaker, a 360° camera, and a gamepad. But it seems they’re not done there, as they’ve announced new mods made by Lenovo which includes a Polaroid instant camera mod.

With the Polaroid attachment, it seems like you’ll be able to print out any photo instantly as opposed to printing photos that were just taken. They’ve also announced an Alexa speaker attachment that is said to work like an Echo when the phone is placed screen-down on a surface. Or, you know, the Dot is also super cheap.

Look, Motorola is doing their thing and that’s great, I’m just not sure how much value is in phone attachments that will be unusable after you move on to a new phone.

They’ll be available this holiday season. No word on price, but most mods seem to range around $80+ and that’ll be a lot to ask for gimmicky Polaroid instant printer, especially when you can buy the new OneStep 2 Polaroid Camera for $100 which has been reviewed as a fun Polaroid camera.

TheVerge ]

Casio Is Making A $500 Selfie Camera For Asia That Will Sell Like Mad

While smartphones have basically killed compact cameras, there’s still a market for compact cameras that can take your selfie game higher to the next level. Casio knows this is especially true in Asia, and has been selling a $900 camera specifically made for selfies. The reason for this is as the social network Weibo is rapidly growing in China, women are essentially competing to make the most attractive profiles.

Well, now they’re expanding their line with the $500 TR Mini, a smaller version of their TR80 camera. The TR Mini is shaped like a pocket mirror and has a ring of 8 LEDs for taking well-lit selfies anywhere. The sensor is 12-Megapixels, but is cut to 8-Megapixels because they know people want to share those square shots. The camera also includes low-energy Bluetooth transfer to your phone, because every second your selfie isn’t online, is one less person envious of how pretty you are.

The cameras are unlikely to be ever be sold here. Which is a little sad considering its fans love them so much they refer to them as a “selfie God device”. Though to be fair, every selfie I take is already god-like.

TheVerge ]

 

Dodgers Beat Cubs on Justin Turner’s Walk-Off Home Run in Game 2 of NLCS

The Los Angeles Dodgers are in control of the National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs after Justin Turner played hero in Sunday's 4-1 Game 2 win at Dodger Stadium.  

Turner drilled a walk-off three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning off starter-working-in-relief John Lackey, all while Chicago manager Joe Maddon allowed All-Star closer Wade Davis to watch from the bullpen.

Turner also drove in the Dodgers' other run in the fifth inning when they were trailing 1-0 and gave his team a commanding 2-0 series lead.

                  

This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.

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Former MLB Pitcher Daniel Webb Dies at Age 28 in ATV Accident

The sheriff's office in Humphreys County, Tennessee, confirmed former Chicago White Sox pitcher Daniel Webb died Saturday night in an ATV accident, according to the Associated Press (via WPSD in Paducah, Kentucky).

The White Sox provided a statement about Webb's death:

The AP reported authorities confirmed Webb suffered head trauma in what was described as a "tragic accident." Webb's wife and two others were injured.

Webb appeared in 94 games over four years with the White Sox. He posted a 4.50 ERA and a 4.46 FIP, according to Baseball Reference.

Webb underwent Tommy John surgery in June 2016, and the White Sox released him in November.

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Former MLB Pitcher Daniel Webb Dies at Age 28 in ATV Accident

The sheriff's office in Humphreys County, Tennessee, confirmed former Chicago White Sox pitcher Daniel Webb died Saturday night in an ATV accident, according to the Associated Press (via WPSD in Paducah, Kentucky).

The White Sox provided a statement about Webb's death:

The AP reported authorities confirmed Webb suffered head trauma in what was described as a "tragic accident." Webb's wife and two others were injured.

Webb appeared in 94 games over four years with the White Sox. He posted a 4.50 ERA and a 4.46 FIP, according to Baseball Reference.

Webb underwent Tommy John surgery in June 2016, and the White Sox released him in November.

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Joe Maddon to Discuss Slide Rule with Joe Torre Following NLCS Game 1 Ejection

Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon said he spoke with Joe Torre, MLB's chief baseball officer, and will meet with Torre to discuss the slide rule at home plate following the Cubs' Game 1 defeat to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Championship Series.

"We talked on the phone. We just have to sit down face-to-face about what I said last night," Maddon said, per ESPN.com's Jesse Rogers. "The only thing I'll say about yesterday is it was a tremendous baseball play on our part."

     

This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.

     

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Houston Astros Start ALCS in Historic Fashion with Pair of Dominant Starts

Houston Astros starter Dallas Keuchel struck out 10 batters en route to a 2-1 victory over the New York Yankees in Game 1 of the ALCS on Friday.

Justin Verlander took the mound for Game 2 and proceeded to pitch a complete game and earn a win, fanning 13 Yankees along the way. The duo combined to mark the first time in MLB history that a pair of teammates have begun a playoff series with victories in which they struck out at least 10 batters, per Elias Sports Bureau (h/t ESPN.com).

Both pitchers have been dominant during the 2017 postseason. Keuchel, who went 14-5 with a 2.90 ERA and 1.119 WHIP during the regular season, has allowed just one earned run over 12.2 innings in the playoffs. Over those frames, he's struck out 17 batters and walked only four.

The Detroit Tigers traded Verlander to Houston at the latter end of August. After being sent to Houston, Verlander started five games for the Astros to finish the regular season going 5-0 and pitching his way to a 1.06 ERA and 0.647 WHIP.

Verlander's excellence has carried into the postseason as well. In addition to starting two games, he was used out of the bullpen during the ALDS against the Boston Red Sox. Altogether he's thrown 17.2 innings and allowed just four runs while putting together a 16-5 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

The Astros have a 2-0 lead over the Yankees in the ALCS following Saturday's victory. Charlie Morton will attempt to extend that lead and continue Houston's string of spectacular starts when he takes the mound for Game 3 on Monday.

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Red Sox Rumors: Alex Cora ‘Top Candidate’ to Replace John Farrell as Manager

The Boston Red Sox lost to the Houston Astros in the American League Division Series but are now focusing on their managerial search.

On Sunday, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported Astros bench coach Alex Cora is seen as Boston's "top candidate" to replace John Farrell. This comes after the Red Sox fired Farrell on Wednesday following their four-game loss to Houston.

Baseball reporter Peter Gammons noted Red Sox President Dave Dombrowski received a recommendation regarding Cora from Houston manager A.J. Hinch. The Astros hired Cora to his current position in November 2016 after he played 14 seasons from 1998 through 2011, and he's helped lead them to within two victories of the World Series this postseason.

According to Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe, Dombrowski was "expected to interview [Cora] on Sunday" while the Astros were off during their American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees.

The Red Sox are not without competition, as David Lennon and Marc Carig of Newsday reported the New York Mets are also expected to interview Cora for their open manager position with the Astros in New York for the ALCS.

"He has a great personality," former teammate and current Astros player Carlos Beltran said of Cora, per Lennon and Carig. "He's intense, players like to see that. But at the same time, he's a guy that can sit down in the clubhouse with the players and have a baseball conversation."

Beltran was not the only former teammate to recommend Cora:

There is a clear connection with both franchises as Cora played for the Red Sox from 2006-08 and the Mets in 2009 and 2010.

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NLCS Schedule 2017: Start Time, Odds, World Series Predictions Before Game 2

Jon Lester is going to try to get the Chicago Cubs even in the National League Championship Series on Sunday. It may not be an easy task because the defending World Series champions are playing a powerful and motivated team in the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Dodgers earned a 5-2 Game 1 victory after the Cubs jumped out to a 2-0 lead, but the Chicago offense dried up completely after Albert Almora's two-run home run in the fourth inning. The Cubs were held to four hits in the game by six Dodgers pitchers.

Clayton Kershaw pitched the first five innings and gave up the home run to Almora, and the Los Angeles bullpen was perfect. The relievers held the Cubs without a hit and didn't allow a walk. Kenta Maeda pitched one inning and earned the victory, while Kenley Jansen pitched the last 1.1 innings and recorded the save.

Lester is hoping to contain a Los Angeles lineup that had eight hits and two home runs against Cubs pitching. Rich Hill will take the mound for the Dodgers, and he will attempt to keep Chicago in check.

Lester pitched 9.2 innings in two appearances during the NLDS against the Washington Nationals. He gave up three hits and had a 1.86 earned-run average. Lester was 13-8 during the regular season, with his 4.33 ERA indicating he was not in top form through most of the campaign.

Hill pitched 4.0 innings during the Dodgers' three-game sweep of the Diamondbacks and gave up three hits and had a 4.50 ERA. Hill was 12-8 with a 3.32 ERA during the regular season.

The Cubs' big hitters have not been on their game in the postseason. Kris Bryant is hitting .208 with just five hits and two RBI in his six postseason games. He has struck out 11 times in 25 plate appearances. Anthony Rizzo is hitting .174 with four hits and six RBI, and he has fanned seven times in 25 plate appearances.

Second baseman Javier Baez has yet to get a hit in 17 at bats, while catcher Willson Contreras is hitting .222 with one home run and one RBI. Addison Russell (.190), Kyle Schwarber (.125) and Ben Zobrist (.222) are also struggling at the plate.

The Dodgers are doing a much better job at the plate. Justin Turner is hitting .412 with a home run and six RBI and Yasiel Puig is hitting .467 with one long ball and six RBI. The Dodgers are hitting .293 as a team with five home runs and 23 RBI.

Hill is looking forward to the challenge of facing the Cubs, saying, per Stats TSX (h/t CBSSports.com):

"It's great. Anytime you get the opportunity to play and compete against the best, I think it's something that everybody who is a competitor wants to do. You want to challenge yourself against the best, and they're the defending champions, and that's the club that we wanted to play and the team that we want to beat to get to the next step, which is the World Series."

Lester says he wants to keep the Dodgers from working long at bats. "I think it's just like anything this time of year, you have to try to hold back momentum as best you can," Lester said, per the same source. "You can't let those guys string hits together, long at-bats, foul balls, stuff like that." 

The Cubs and Dodgers will meet at Dodger Stadium at 7:38 p.m. ET, and Game 2 will be televised by TBS. The Dodgers opened as minus-145 favorites (wager $145 to win $100), according to OddsShark, while the Cubs are plus-125 underdogs (wager $100 to win $125)

The Dodgers are plus-169 (wager $100 to win $169) to win the World Series, while the Cubs are plus-415 (wager $100 to win $415).

                 

Prediction

The Cubs have proved they can handle adversity in the postseason many times, and their comeback victory in Game 5 against the Nationals was the latest example. They were down 4-1 in that game when the Nationals went to ace Max Scherzer, but the Cubs rallied for the victory.

A 1-0 deficit to the Dodgers will not cause them to cry or shake in their boots.

However, the Cubs are struggling badly at the plate. Almora is the only player who is hitting well, with a .333 batting average, one home run, three RBI and a 1.067 OPS. Stars like Bryant and Russell are struggling.

It is not likely to turn around on the road against Hill. The Cubs will likely scratch out a run or two, but the Dodgers should be good for at least as much against Lester, and then they will work over the Cubs' soft bullpen.

The Dodgers take Game 2 and go to Chicago with a 2-0 lead in the series, which is scheduled for Tuesday at 9 p.m.

At that point, Los Angeles will be dictating the series. The Cubs may earn a victory or two, but the Dodgers will win the series in no more than six games.

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ALCS Schedule 2017: Updated Dates, Times, Coverage Info and World Series Odds

The Houston Astros won the first two games of their American League Championship Series over the New York Yankees by identical 2-1 scores, and now the series shifts to the Bronx for Games 3 and 4 at minimum on Monday and Tuesday, respectively.

Here's a look at the ALCS schedule, per MLB.com, as well as the World Series odds prior to the beginning of the ALCS and National Championship League Series, per OddsShark.

Then, a preview and pick for Game 3 will be provided below.

      

American League Championship Series Schedule

Game 3 (Houston at New York): Monday, October 16 at 8 p.m. ET. on FS1

Game 4 (Houston at New York): Tuesday, October 17 at 5 p.m. ET. on FS1

*Game 5 (Houston at New York): Wednesday, October 18 at 5 p.m. ET. on FS1

*Game 6 (New York at Houston): Friday, October 20 at 8 p.m. ET. on FS1

*Game 7 (New York at Houston): Saturday, October 21 at 8 p.m. ET. on FS1

An asterisk indicates that the game will be played if necessary. MLB.TV subscribers can stream the games online, and fans can tune into all postseason contests through ESPN Radio (as well as their local carriers for games).

         

World Series Odds

1. Los Angeles Dodgers: +160

2. Houston Astros: +190

3. Chicago Cubs: +375

4. New York Yankees: +600

        

Game 3 Pick

New York Yankees starter CC Sabathia will take the mound in an attempt to put the Bronx Bombers in the ALCS win column, and his team has an advantage over the Astros on Monday thanks to his sterling record against the current Astros.

Opposing Astros hitters have managed just a .193 batting average against with only three home runs in 88 at-bats. Sabathia has also struck out 24 Houston batters.

On the flip side, Astros starting pitcher Charlie Morton has struggled a bit against these Yankees. Of note, second baseman Starlin Castro is 12-for-30 with three home runs, and Todd Frazier is 7-for-18 with two dingers. As a team, these Yankees have hit .327 against Morton with an eye-popping .994 OPS.

That doesn't bode well for Morton, who will pitch in the second-most homer-friendly park in baseball from the 2017 season, per ESPN.

Also, it's early yet, but indications from Daily Baseball Data report that a strong 13 mph cross wind will be blowing toward the direction of right field, which could give an advantage to Yankee lefties or right-handers who can take the ball the other way.

Furthermore, Morton has been a reverse-splits pitcher this year. He's held left-handers to a microscopic .561 OPS, but that number jumps up to .805 for right-handers.

Playing devil's advocate, Morton doesn't allow much hard contact. Per FanGraphs, only 26.9 percent of his batted balls have been hit hard, and he's given up just .86 homers per nine innings. His swinging strike rate is also an above-average 10.9 percent, so he could induce the free-swinging Yankees to strike out a bit.

Still, the deck is stacked a bit against Morton, who should post a decent outing but might give up a few runs in the process.

In the end, give the edge to the home side as they try to fight back from their second consecutive 2-0 hole after scoring just two runs in 18 innings to start this series.

Pick: New York 6, Astros 3

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