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Justin Verlander is the Astros’ last hope in the ALCS

Friday’s Say Hey, Baseball looks at the Astros trying to force a Game 7, and the Dodgers defeating the Cubs to reach the World Series.

League Championship Series - New York Yankees v Houston Astros - Game Two Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

The Dodgers are in the World Series, but they don't know who they will be facing yet. If Justin Verlander has anything to say about it, it's going to be the Astros. This is what Houston acquired him for: it had the AL West wrapped up in every sense except the mathematical one back in August, and Verlander’s role was to strengthen the rotation in the postseason. That's just what he's done, and now he has the chance to extend the Astros’ season by forcing a Game 7 in the ALCS.

Verlander absolutely shoved in Game 2, when he threw a complete game with just one run allowed. He posted a 1.06 ERA with the Astros down the stretch, once again showing that second-half Verlander hasn't yet been impacted by his age. His ability to go deep into games nullifies Houston's most significant weakness — its lack of bullpen depth.

The Yankees are no pushovers, of course — they've got the best offense in baseball hitting like a team full of Jon Lesters — and they'll be sending their own ace, Luis Severino, to the mound for Game 6. All of that is what makes this Game 6 so significant, though.

The Astros can force a Game 7 with their battle-tested veteran ace on the mound, the guy they acquired for this specific purpose. Or, the new, developing ace, the guy who helped bring the Yankees here before they were even supposed to be, is going to lead his team to the World Series. Popcorn.gif, much?

Verlander can't pitch Game 7, but that's a problem for Saturday, and one the Astros will be thrilled to have the chance to contemplate. For now, they're just happy to be back at home and outside of Yankee Stadium, where they were handed three straight losses and conceded the series' lead. Verlander gives them a realistic chance to get there, even with Severino opposing them, even with the way the Yankees have shut down Houston's lineup.