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#pounditSunday, November 28, 2021

Yankees make costly strategic decision against Jose Altuve to lose ALCS

Aroldis Chapman Yankees

The Houston Astros won a dramatic ALCS Game 6 in the bottom of the 9th off Aroldis Chapman, but the New York Yankees made a strategic blunder that contributed to the 6-4 Astros win.

The Yankees had tied the game in the top of the 9th inning on a two-run home run by DJ LeMahieu, which allowed them to bring Chapman into a tie game in the bottom of the 9th. Chapman retired the first two hitters, catcher Martin Maldonado and outfielder Josh Reddick, relatively easily. He seemed to lose command of his fastball against George Springer and walked the Houston outfielder to bring Jose Altuve to the plate with one on and two out.

Normally, facing Altuve in that spot would be a no-win situation. The Astros’ normal No. 3 hitter is Michael Brantley, but he had been removed for defensive purposes in the 9th. Instead of Brantley, light-hitting outfielder Jake Marisnick was on deck behind Altuve.

Chapman’s fastball command was still failing him, and he went to 2-0 on Altuve. At this point, Chapman shouldn’t have given Altuve anything to hit. Marisnick hit just .225 against left-handed pitching in 2019, and with Chapman’s overwhelming stuff, he would have had a significant advantage over the reserve outfielder.

Instead, Chapman left a breaking ball up on the outer edge, and Altuve smashed it for a series-winning home run.

We already know what Altuve can do against elite left-handed pitching. He hit .311 with a .677 slugging percentage against lefties this season. As good as Chapman is, Altuve absolutely mashes southpaws. The Yankees surely knew that. At 2-0, Chapman should have just pitched around him. Their failure to do so may have cost them a chance to play in a Game 7 and keep their World Series hopes alive.


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