Houston Astros vs. New York Yankees Pick & Prediction MARCH 29th 2024

While the game situation wasn’t necessarily ideal for new Houston closer Josh Hader to make his Astros debut, his performance most certainly made a favorable impression.

Hader, the Astros’ notable free-agent acquisition this offseason, struck out the side on 13 pitches in the ninth inning of a 5-4 home loss to the New York Yankees on Opening Day Thursday.

The teams resume their four-game series Friday night, with New York left-hander Carlos Rodon opposing Houston right-hander Cristian Javier.

Hader threw nine sinkers and four sliders while dispatching Giancarlo Stanton, Anthony Rizzo and Anthony Volpe. He averaged 95.7 mph with his two-seam fastball and recorded a called third strike on Volpe with that pitch. Hader signed a 5-year, $95 million contract and replaced former closer Ryan Pressly, who allowed the tiebreaking run in the top of the seventh.

“I hoped we had the lead there,” Astros manager Joe Espada said of bringing in Hader in the ninth. “Very impressive. Stuff was coming out, it was aggressive. Blowing fastballs by some really good hitters. That was really fun to watch.”

Javier (10-5, 4.56 ERA in 2023) labored down the stretch last season, posting an 0-3 record and 5.11 ERA over six starts before twirling six shutout innings in an 8-1 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Oct. 1.

Javier is 1-1 in five games (four starts) against the Yankees in his career. Last season, he was 0-1. He absorbed a 6-1 loss to the Yankees on Sept. 3 at Minute Maid Park, allowing three runs on four hits with eight strikeouts over six innings. Javier faced the Yankees a month earlier on the road and allowed three runs on four hits and three walks with four strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings. He did not factor into the decision of a 4-3 setback.

Rodon (3-8, 6.85 ERA in 2023) made only 14 starts last season due to two stints on the injured list, but he is healthy entering this season.

In his first season with the Yankees, Rodon lost his final three starts, posting a 9.69 ERA over 13 innings.

In his career against Houston, he is 3-0 with a 2.50 ERA. Last season, he defeated the host Astros on Sept. 1, allowing two runs on three hits and one walk with four strikeouts over five innings in a 6-2 victory. Rodon did not factor into the decision of a 9-7 home loss to Houston on Aug. 6 after surrendering five runs on three hits and two walks with five strikeouts over 2 2/3 innings.

On Opening Day, Oswaldo Cabrera smacked a game-tying home run in the sixth inning after starting at third base for the Yankees. Cabrera getting the start was a moderate surprise following the club’s acquisition of Jon Berti on Wednesday as part of a three-team trade involving the Miami Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays.

With DJ LeMahieu (right foot) opening the season on the injured list, the Yankees addressed concerns over their infield depth by acquiring Berti, a 34-year-old utilityman who slashed .294/.344/.405 with seven home runs and 16 steals in 133 games for the Marlins last season. The timing of the trade led Yankees manager Aaron Boone to start Cabrera, who went 2-for-4 and scored twice Thursday.

“A lot of it was Berti getting in in the middle of the night and the whirlwind that I know it’s been for him as you’re getting ready to break (camp) for your team and then all of a sudden you’re traded,” Boone said. “But then getting in in the middle of the night with a day game, I just want him to get acclimated as best as he can. So hopefully (resting) helps get him settled in a little bit.”

–Field Level Media

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