The Yankees have a few things going for them as they enter Game 3 of the American League Championship Series down 0-2 to the Astros. Maybe at the top of the list is the fact that Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander will be on the bench.
The Yankees have a miserable history against Keuchel, while Verlander has performed superbly against them as well, with no better success than his Game 2 start. Astros' Game 3 starter Charlie Morton is no slouch, as he pitched to a 14-7 record with a 3.62 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 163 strikeouts in 143 2/3 innings in the regular season.
The Yankees have been striking out at a disturbing clip, so a matchup against another pitcher that generates plenty of swing and misses may not seem like a great matchup.
It's also true that the Yankees need to get Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez off the schneid, but there are a few players that might be hitting in the lower half of New York's Game 3 lineup that can make some noise. The playoffs are funny in this way; often times it's the players that we least expect or believe should carry a club that come to life. That scenario could play out tonight.
Starlin Castro is without a doubt one of the more frustrating hitters in the Yankees' lineup. He's streaky and he has zero approach at the plate - other than to swing at EVERYTHING. Here's the thing, make a mistake to Castro in his wheelhouse and he can cause a ton of trouble.
Castro has faced Morton the second most times among current Yankees, courtesy of their days facing off in the National League Central Division. Castro is 12-for-30 (.400) with a double, three home runs and nine RBIs against Morton in his career. Add that to Castro's much loftier numbers in Yankee Stadium this season (.323 AVG, .879 OPS with 10 HR and 40 RBI) and there is a positive matchup for the Yankees.
Todd Frazier has been described as one of the players who has lifted the Yankees in the clubhouse, but his offense has been up and down since coming over in the summer trade. Somewhat like Castro, Frazier can be a drain at times, but also has the ability to fill the scorecard with hits and runs.
Again, Morton could be the elixir that Frazier needs to get off the floor in the playoffs (collectively going 5-for-27 in 2017). Frazier has 18 at-bats against Morton in which he has delivered seven hits - five for extra bases - including two home runs and six RBIs. While Frazier could be hitting last in the Yankees lineup, he may well be extremely productive while Morton is on the hill.
Finally, Matt Holliday has the most plate appearances against Morton of all the current Yankees. To be fair, there is a chance that Holliday is not even in the Game 3 lineup, but it will be difficult for Yankees skipper Joe Girardi to ignore his designated hitter's history against Morton.
In 38 plate appearances, Holliday has hit .297 with three home runs and 10 RBIs with Morton opposing him. Holliday, who missed almost two weeks before getting a start in Game 1 of the ALCS and has not collected a hit (none of the Yankees DH's have this postseason) in two games, could change that with a familiar face that he's had success staring him down from the mound.
The Yankees are fortunate to have a stopper on the hill in Game 3 in the likes of CC Sabathia, but the reality is that New York's offense must come alive against the Astros when Keuchel and Verlander are on not on the mound. Game 3 provides that opportunity one the Yanks must take advantage of, and one in which we could witness some surprise contributors.