5 Major Yankees Storylines to Follow in Season-Opening Series vs. Astros

We'll see a potential preview of the playoffs when the Yankees take on the Astros

Sep 3, 2023; Houston, Texas, USA; New York Yankees second baseman Gleyber Torres (25) rounds the
Sep 3, 2023; Houston, Texas, USA; New York Yankees second baseman Gleyber Torres (25) rounds the / Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees open the 2024 season against a familiar foe as they play the Astros in Houston — the team that's ended their season three times since 2017. This series is the best matchup of the Opening Weekend, with a real chance of being a preview of the ALCS.

Neither team is at full strength heading into the season however, even injured these teams are still loaded with talent. Here are the big storylines Yankees fans should be following.

Two Aces Missing From the Deck

The Yankees will be without their Ace reigning Cy Young winner Gerrit Cole who is dealing with elbow nerve inflammation. On the opposite side of this rivalry, the Astros will be without their three-time Cy Young winner Justin Verlander, who will miss some time with a shoulder injury.

The losses of Verlander and Cole for their respective teams will allow for a fresh face to make his first start in this rivalry. For the Yankees that means Marcus Stroman making his debut in pinstripes. The last time Stroman pitched against the Astros was in 2017 and for his career Stroman is 2-1 with a 3.00 ERA across five starts against Houston.

New Faces in New Places

New York's offseason additions look to bring a much-needed boost to a Yankees team that failed to make the postseason last year. The biggest new addition to this rivalry is easily blockbuster trade acquisition Juan Soto. The Yankees also added Alex Verdugo to their outfield, giving the team another reliable hitter. We're likely to see Trent Grisham in this series as well after the Yankees added the gold glover as a potential late-game defensive replacement. In game three we'll see the Yankees' biggest pitching addition in Marcus Stroman.

The Astros' biggest addition isn't being talked about enough heading into the season after losing in the ALCS. The Astros signed arguably the best closer in baseball in Josh Hader to a massive five-year $95 million dollar deal giving the Astros the best 7th through 9th inning trio with Bryan Abreu and Ryan Pressley.

Potential Major Hardware Winners Kick Their Seasons Off

The star power in the Yankees and Astros series may be at its peak despite the loss of two Cy Young pitchers. The Yankees will field the top two American League MVP favorites in Aaron Judge and Juan Soto. The Astros have another member of the top five in Yordan Alvarez.

The Astros have one of the top frontrunners for the American League Cy Young in Framber Valdez who's coming off of back-to-back seasons in the top ten of Cy Young Voting. Also taking the stage are multiple Silver Slugger candidates in Kyle Tucker, Anthony Rizzo, Gleyber Torres, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, and Jose Abreu.

Who Will Stay Hot After the Spring?

The best performer in Yankees Spring Training was Gleyber Torres, who hit .356 with three home runs and seven RBIs. Anthony Rizzo looked fully recovered from his concussion issues batting .389 with two home runs and nine RBIs this spring. Giancarlo Stanton finished the spring on a hot streak, hitting .317 with four home runs — three of which came against the Pirates a week ago.

The Astros batters all dominated the Spring Training with some solid performances on the pitching side. Jose Altuve hit .250, Alex Bregman .383, Kyle Tucker .317, Mauricio Dubon .471, and Yordan Alvarez .343. On the pitching side, potential starters in Hunter Brown and Ronel Blanco dominated Spring Training with Brown pitching to a 2.12 ERA and Blanco pitching a scoreless Spring in 15.2 innings.

Keys to a Great Series for the Yankees

If the Yankees are going to win this series it starts with the pitching staff against a dominant Astros lineup. Nestor Cortes, Carlos Rodon, and Marcus Stroman will be tasked with keeping the Yankees in the game while the team would love for length out of the trio. At the plate, the Yankees will need to drive in a ton of runs to win this series in what may be a depleted Astros rotation without Justin Verlander, Luis Garcia, Jose Urquidy, and Lance McCullers. Look for high scoring games in both while these teams continue to build up their starting pitchers.

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