If you've been reading Too Much Tuma for a while now (I think there's 2 or 3 of you out there) then you know I have a thing for bullpens, particularly in October. This is for the usual obvious reasons. There are more off days in the playoffs, so relievers can be stretched for longer outings, and they can be used more often.
Building a great bullpen can also help cover a team's flaws, either the offense (by helping win low scoring, close games) or starting pitching (relievers can enter the game as early as the first inning these days). What's scary is that in the ALDS against Cleveland, the bullpen didn't rescue New York's starters...they supplemented them.
Yankees starters dominated their three game comeback. In games 3-5 Masahiro Tanaka, Luis Severino, and CC Sabathia combined for 18 1/3 innings, 12 hits allowed, five runs, and a 25/2 K/BB ratio. When you get starting pitching performances like that AND have an elite bullpen, you're gonna be tough to beat. If anything the bullpen hurt them this series, leading to the Game 2 collapse (though Joe Girardi is probably more to blame).
I would say these dominant starting pitching performances can't continue to be counted on, particularly against a reallllllly good Astros offense. But if you're the Yankees that's alright. You're built for this. And I keep coming back to the Wild Card game against the Twins when the Yankees' relievers combined to pitch 8 2/3 innings. They still have the "bullpen game" card to play if need be. And that's only if the starting pitching isn't getting it done. Who knows? Maybe these guys are just hot right now and will keep rolling.
I've been on this train for a while now. Back in July I wrote the Yankees might have the best bullpen ever built for October. So yeah, I kind of like their chances at "making some noise" against Houston. Disclosure that so far this post-season I'm 0-1 with upset picks, touting the Diamondbacks as a good bet to take down the Dodgers. That didn't pay off but I still think the logic in making the pick made sense.
And I think the logic works here too. The Astros are a better team than the Yankees, and they're favored for a reason. But if I was ever going to build a team to win in October it would be built like the Yankees (minus that Aaron Judge fellow, he stinks). This time of year the cliche goes that good pitching beats good offense. That's what we have here in the 2017 ALCS. Pitching (Yankees) versus offense (Astros). There's logic in picking this upset...I think.