Beltran, Perfect For the Mets by Rich Mancuso/The New York Extra

NEW YORK, NY – NOVEMBER 04: Carlos Beltran poses for pictures after being introduced as the next manager of the New York Mets during a press conference at Citi Field on November 4, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

Truth is Carlos Beltran never left New York. We know the one-time New York Met was an all-star during his playing days at Shea Stadium signing that lucrative seven-year $119 million dollar deal after the 2004 season.

 Monday morning at Citi Field, he said  “I can’t wait to rewrite our story with the New York Mets.”

file photo Neil Miller /The New York Extra 2019

Now the reality of the Carlos Beltran story begins, not as the player but the manager who will begin to guide the Mets in 2020.   He now gets that opportunity as the 22nd manager in franchise history and there was never a doubt he was coming home.

 Beltran, a nine-time All-Star, World Series champion with the Houston Astros, three-time Gold Glove winner and American League Rookie of the Year, said the Mets were the only team he considered to be a first time manager.

“His familiarity with New York City, his familarity with the Mets, his understanding of how to cope with expectations , adversity and success all factored into it,” said Mets General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen.

02/04/19 truck sendoff day at citifield for the NY Mets, queens ny Mets General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen talks to fans at the truck send off today at Citifield File photo by Neil Miller/The New York Extra 2019

Van Wagenen said, Beltran wanted this opportunity. He was the finalist of three, but that first impression was being a players’ manager, Not that his predecessor, Mickey Calalway, wasn’t that type, but Van Wagenen obviously wanted the manager of his choice.

And what he said during the long interview process secured the deal. He desired to be a players’ manager and he will.

But that does not matter now. Carlos Beltran is home. He never left New York, retained his residence here. He learned more working under Yankees GM Brian Cashman the past two years as an adviser.

New York Yankees General Manager , Brian Cashman file photo Neil Miller/The New York Extra

Cashman was one of many that gave their endorsement to hire Beltran. 

“I feel that I have more credibility to motivate the players and be there for them,” he said.”  

Today, the way the game has changed, Beltran has those tools to relate in and out of the clubhouse.

Not that Mickey Callaway, who was dismissed after two years, didn’t have that relationship with his teams. Despite what was reported, the manager’s office was always open for communication when Callaway was at the helm.

But the Mets went in another direction and this time they brought a former player home.

 Mets fans will eventually forgive Beltran for the last out in 2006 that concluded their season and failed  to get the Mets to a World Series. And they should, because those six-and-a-half years wearing Number 15 will eventually get him to the Hall of Fame when the time comes in 2020.  

Credit twitter

Omar Minaya was a key component in getting this three-year deal with an option for a fourth done. He was always a Carlos Beltran supporter and they kept in contact.

Brodie listened to Minaya, the former GM  who signed Beltran in his free agent year. Beltran had another supporter, former Kansas City Royals GM Allard Baird, assistant to Van Wagenen who delivered Beltran to the Major Leagues.

 Beltran ended his career as the fifth player to reach both 400 home runs and 300 stolen bases, and just the fourth switch hitter with 400 home runs.

And this from Brodie Van Wagenen, “It was Carlos’ strengths that won the day. His ability to relate to young players, very few people have that ability to do that and walk in a room.”

07/24/19 San Diego Padres vs New York Mets at Citifield Queens NY #36 Mickey Callaway talks to the press before the game Neil Miller /The New York Extra

Yet this could be the most significant move made by Van Wagenen. A year on the job, he did not hire Mickey Callaway two years ago. He wanted his own manager and now he has one that comes from the family.

And if the Beltran hire does not work, Brodie Van Wagenen will have failed again in the eyes of Mets fans who want that commitment to win and play baseball in October.

But for now, the Carlos Beltran era once again begins in New York. The first Latino manager for the franchise and in New York baseball has a lot of work to do beginning Tuesday morning.

A coaching staff and lots of organizational meetings before the first pitch next March are on the agenda. More so the story, as Beltran said, is to win. And he can’t wait to rewrite the story.


Comment: Ring786@aol.com  Twitter@Ring786  Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso

Beltran Will Have to Learn to Drive Fast

04/06/16 Houston Astros vs N.Y.Yankees at Yankee Stadium Bronx N.YNew York Yankees right fielder Carlos Beltran #36 at batting practice today File photo Neil Miller / The/New York Extra

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely – John Dalberg-Acton.

Robbins Nest

By Lenn Robbins

 The Mets have hired a manager that has never managed before.

Carlos Beltran isn’t the first to make this jump. Aaron Boone has been pretty darn impressive since taking over the Yankees. Yes, Boone inherited a team replete with talent, resources and culture, but there is a long list of coaches/managers that have failed in similar scenarios.

09/19/15 N.Y.Yankees vs N.Y.Mets at Citifield Queens N.Y. New York Yankees lead 3-0 after 2 innings New York Yankees right fielder Carlos Beltran #36 hits a 3 run homer in the 1st innning File photo Neil Miller/The New York Extra

Beltran’s Mets should have a solid corps of talent but we don’t know what resources the Wilpons are willing to invest in this team. And the culture of the Mets has been one of dysfunction.

10/04/16 New York Mets wild card work out day jeff wilpon at work out today File photo Neil Miller / The New York Extra
File Photo Neil Miller /The New York Extra

 Enter Brodie Van Wagenen who the Mets hired last season as GM despite the fact that he had no front office experience. The results have been mixed.

Van Wagenen made several aggressive moves (some think too aggressive) acquiring Robinson Cano, Edwin Diaz and Marcus Stroman. The Mets were in the playoff race until the final two weeks of the season and it was electric.

02/04/19 truck sendoff day at citifield for the NY Mets, queens ny File photo Neil Miller/The New York Extra Mets gn brodie van wagoner talks to fans at the truck send off today at citifield

 Van Wagenen seems to have been granted tremendous power by the Wilpons. The question is, is it unchecked power? Is it the limitless power the Mets will be paying for if Van Wagenen’s ‘Forward Charge!” approach doesn’t work?  

Some of the most notorious military leaders in history have led their troops to disaster. George Custer, who graduated at the bottom of his class from West Point, led the 7th Calvary to disaster in the Battle of Little Bighorn. James Brudenell, the earl of Cardigan, lost everything but his sweater when he ordered the charge of the light brigade.

The GM with no previous management experience has hired a manager with no managing experience.

Risky? Sure.

Exciting? Yep.

Beltran only wanted to coach the Mets, and, according to published reports, did not interview for any other openings.

As is the case with Boone, Beltran, who retired in 2017, should relate to the players.

File photo Neil Miller /The New York Extra

There were eight managerial openings after last season. Six have been filled. Beltran is the only minority. MLB needs to look at that because fair or unfair (read, unfair) Beltran might face extra scrutiny and certainly more attention. If he succeeds it bolsters the case for more minorities to be hired.

Beltran is walking into a unique scenario. For the first time since 2016, the Mets will enter a season with legit expectations to make the playoffs.

Van Wagenen has shown his desire to floor the accelerator, which means Beltran first ride will be in the fast lane.

This makes the Mets, with slugger Pete Alonzo and a terrific rotation, a must-watch.

08/05/19 Miami Marlins vs New York Mets at citifield queens ny #20 pete alonso celebrates on a go ahead homer in the 7th innning Neil Miller/The New York Extra

Start your engines Mets fans. The Mets might be the most intriguing story in baseball next season.

Lindy’s “Safe ” Halloween

A safe alternative for Trick or Treat hosted by Lindenhurst High School by Neil Miller/The New York Extra

A young princess rides in her carriage today Neil Miller/The New York Extra 2019

A tradition in Lindenhurst, a safe Halloween party is thrown every year by the students and staff at Lindenhurst High School.This year was no exception as the community gathered in the halls and classrooms to enjoy a fun alternative for their families instead of going door to door in the streets.

There were games, face painting and lots of candy given out. Families of every size and type enjoyed the event. Most of all there were the very creative outfits designed by all who attended today. Long Island Natives always seem to have the ability to find new and fun ways to spend their holidays!

Starting Tonight, Nets Must Show They got the Message

Robbins Nest

By Lenn Robbins

MEMPHIS, TN – OCTOBER 27: Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets shoots the ball against the Memphis Grizzlies on October 27, 2019 at FedExForum in Memphis Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)

If the NBA season ended today, the Brooklyn Nets would not make the playoffs as would the Golden State Warriors and the Portland Trail Blazers.

Folly, of course. The Nets have another 79 games so the above statement probably will turn out to be ridiculous.

Here’s what is not ridiculous: If the Nets don’t learn from their 134-133 OT loss to the Memphis Grizzlies then they are staring at a season of struggle.

The Grizzlies are in full rebuild, just as the Nets once were. Few teams have written a better rebuild story than Brooklyn. Through the smart workings of GM Sean Marks and positive energy of coach Kenny Atkinson, the Nets have risen from doormat to one of the most intriguing teams in the league.

credit twitter

And when Kevin Durant returns from his surgically repaired Achilles tendon, there’s a real chance this franchise can win its first-ever NBA title. But not if they don’t a few things.

The Nets dug a 14-point hole in Memphis but rallied to take the lead. They couldn’t hold a late eight-point lead. They allowed the Grizzlies to shoot 48.5-percent from the field and 42.4-percent on 3’s.

credit twitter

 “We could never get stops,” Atkinson told reporters after the loss. “I don’t know how many straight possessions they scored, but I never felt like we could get the requisite stops to win this game.

“It started in the first quarter when we gave them 14 free throws, a lot of silly mistakes, putting them on the line. Got in a hole again, down 14. We could look at the end and say this and that, but really we didn’t deserve to win the game.”

That’s as honest and accurate an assessment as you’ll ever read.

Atkinson’s words, “Really we didn’t deserve to win the game,” might find a place in the Nets training facility. This team won 42 games and made the playoffs last season because, more often than not, they deserved to win. They outworked, outhustled, out-defended and out-willed the opposition on many nights.

It’s not easy to do. But it’s a little easier when teams view you as the new kid on the block. Before last season’s resurgence the Nets won 69 games over the previous three seasons.

A lot of eyes turned toward the Nets last year. And then, of course, came the Lotto free agency trifecta of Durant, Kyrie Irving and DeAndre Jordan. Even knowing that Durant will likely miss the season, the addition of Irving along with the development of young players make the Nets a must-watch team.

No longer will opposing teams see ‘Brooklyn’ on the schedule and crack a smile. Nope, you better come ready to play, unless, of course the Nets do not, as was the case in Memphis.

Every team that builds toward a championship run has to learn this lesson, learn what it’s like to have to come be at your best every night because that ‘target on the back’ cliché’ holds a lot of merit.

 “We digressed a little bit where just individual pride, keeping your man in front of you, simple sort of backside rotations whatever it might be, just sort of a little bit off at this point,” Joe Harris told reporters. “It starts with taking individual ownership and being able to guard your man.”

Starting with Wednesday night’s home game against the Indiana Pacers, the Nets need to get back to doing that. They need to fully grasp that with greater expectations come greater challenge every night.

If the Nets do that, they will be one of the better NBA stories. If not, what seemed ridiculous in October may be of real concern in April.

Will Jones, Darnold Survive Their Inept Franchises

Robbins Nest

East Rutherford, N.J., Monday, October 21, 2019. Jets QB Sam Darnold fumbles the ball while being sacked by John Simon of the Patriots. (Photo by David L. Pokress)

By Lenn Robbins

This might not be fair to Daniel Jones. It surely isn’t fair to Sam Darnold.

09/29/19 Washington Redskins vs N.Y. Giants at Metlife Stadium East Rutherford N.J. #8 Dan Jones right and #10 Eli Manning on the bencg in todays game

But this is one of many burdens that come with playing in a media market that hoists the Empire State Building on one shoulder and the Chrysler Building on the other.

Heavy load.

Jones, the sixth player taken in the 2019 NFL Draft, has started a mere six games in this, his rookie season. Some already are wondering if he has a better chance of developing into a franchise quarterback than Darnold.

Darnold, the third player picked in last year’s draft, made the 17th start of his career in Sunday’s 29-15 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. He’s 22 years old, which means there’s a lot of progressing still to come, hopefully positive.

Unless, of course he’s not broken before he can reach his potential, which is the bigger concern than which quarterback is playing better now.

Darnold posted a three-interception game for the second straight week. This time there was no talk of supernatural sightings as was the case in last week’s 33-0 loss to the Patriots.

East Rutherford, N.J., Sunday, October 13, 2019. Sam Darnold passing against the Cowboys. (The New York Extra/David L. Pokress)

Darnold, who missed time with mono, has thrown eight picks in four games, equal to the number of picks Tom Brady, Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson have combined to throw in 31 games.

Darnold’s numbers for the season are about as bad as bad can be. His rating is 33.7. Mitch Trubisky, who just barely avoided a benching, is 35.8.

 Darnold hasn’t been good. But he’s been accountable and unflappable. He also seems to be flying this Jets team solo. Ted Stryker had a better co-pilot.

The passing attack has been pathetic because, really, who does Darnold have as targets? The offense, overall, is impotent because defenses are sitting on Le’Veon Bell. And the coaching has been, at best baffling and at worst, incompetent.

The Jets go for two when they should take the point after. Clock management is as baffling as Daylight Savings time before smartphones did the change automatically for us.

  Jones threw four touchdown passes and no interceptions in the Giants’ 31-26 loss to the Lions. His QB rating is 55.2 and he’s thrown more touchdowns (10) than interceptions (7). But it’s not that black and white.

09/29/19 Washington Redskins vs N.Y. Giants at Metlife Stadium East Rutherford N.J. #8 Dan jones throws in the 3rd quarter today

  Jones has an elite running back and an upper tier tight end and the Giants might have plan. On Monday, they acquired defensive tackle Leonard Williams from the Jets for a 3rd round pick in 2020 and a 5th round pick in 2021 that could become a fourth rounder if the former No. 6 overall pick in 2015 signs an extension with Big Blue.

That’s another top Jets pick that didn’t pan out but what’s to be expected with the turnover in management and coaches that occurs so frequently and illogically. They always seem to be going one-step forward, three steps back.

The Giants haven’t been much better. The Nate Solder hasn’t been nearly the player he was in New England. The defense is toothless. Williams already is penciled in as a starter before going through a practice.

10/21/19 Patriots vs Jets at metlife stadium east rutherford nj Head coach Adam Gase looks dejected during the 4th quarter tonite Neil Miller ?The New York Extra

Jets coach Adam Gase told reporters on Monday that in one 13-pass sequence on Sunday, Darnold was sacked, hit or touched on nine attempts.

Jones faces a similar challenge. He’s been sacked 21 times in seven games. Darnold’s been sacked 15 times in four games.

The question isn’t who will become the better quarterback. The question is will both quarterbacks be broken down wrecks abandoned on the side of a county road by the time their teams have a winning roster.

NEST EGG: Lamar Jackson is averaging 6.9 yards per carry. No running back with at least 100 carries is averaging more than 5.5 (Nick Chubb). The Baltimore quarterback has rushed 83 times. The closest comparison is San Fran’s Matt Breida who is averaging 5.3 yards on 84 carries.

New England Patriots vs New York Jets 10/21/19, a photo gallery by David L. Pokress ,staff photographer ,The New York Extra

Jets Make it Official: It’s Been a Sad Week in NY Sports

Robbins Nest

10/21/19 Patriots vs Jets at metlife stadium east rutherford nj #14 Sam Darnold reacts after losing a high snap for a safety in tonites game Neil Miller/ The New York Extra

By Lenn Robbins

What a sad time it is for professional sports in New York. So sad.

The Jets put a rotten cherry on a spoiled sundae Monday night with an utterly inept performance against the New England Patriots. Sam Darnold, hailed a week ago when he returned from mono, needed noise canceling headphones to dull the stereo boos that rained down on him in the fourth quarter of what turned out to be a 33-0 embarrassing loss at MetLife Stadium.

That non-effort followed Daniel Jones getting sacked eight times in a 27-21 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, which followed the Yankees getting eliminated from the ALCS in the most gut-retching fashion, which followed the Red Bulls quick exit from the MLS playoffs.

The NHL season is young but the Rangers are in last place in the Metropolitan Division, trailing the Devils by two points at the start of the night. The vagabond Islanders have won four straight to erase a 1-3 start.

The NBA season is about to start, much to the chagrin of Knicks’ fans. The Brooklyn Nets can be a playoff team but can’t make a deep run without Kevin Durant.

What’s next? The New York Marathon gets snowed out? The ball doesn’t drop on New Year’s Eve. Hey, it’s a ball.

Darnold had his best day as a pro last week, throwing for 338 yards on 23-of-31 passing with two touchdowns, one interception and a 113.8 QB rating in a sunning 24-22 upset of the Cowboys.

He looked as lost as a rookie a week later.His QB rating, suggest you sit, was 3.7. He threw four interceptions and lost a fumble. He completed just 11-of-32 passes for 96 yards. The Jets had 154 yards of total offense.

The ultimate indignity for the Jets was the chant of “Brady! Brady!” reverberating through MetLife in the fourth quarter, when the Jets fans  had given over their house to New England faithful.

There were other humiliations. Former Pats receiver Demaryious Thomas dropped everything he could get his hands off. Former Pats return man Braxton Berrios muffed a punt late in the fourth.

Brady watched the final few minutes from the sideline after completing 31-of-45 passes for 249 yards with one touchdown and one interception. When’s the last time you read this:

10/21/19 Patriots vs Jets at metlife stadium east rutherford nj #12 Tom Brady thows in tonites game Neil Miller/The New York Extra
10/21/19 Patriots vs Jets at metlife stadium east rutherford nj #12 Tom Brady{ center of frame} celebrates a Pats touchdown in tonites game Neil Miller /The New York Extra

 If the Patriots offense can catch up to its defense, this team will be unbeatable in the playoffs.

Here’s the worst part of this latest Jets debacle. Adam Gase, quarterback whisperer and hot young coach (41), didn’t have the Jets ready to play a preseason game, no less the marquee Monday Night Football matchup.

10/21/19 Patriots vs Jets at metlife stadium east rutherford nj Head coach Adam Gase looks dejected during the 4th quarter tonite Neil Miller ?The New York Extra

How sad is that? How sad is the state of professional sports in metropolitan area? So sad.

Did the Yankees Lose the ALCS at the Trade Deadline?

Robbins Nest

10/17/17 Houston Astros vs New York Yankees at Yankee stadium bronx ny ALCS Game #4 photos by Neil Miller/The New York Extra New York Yankees Brian Cashman Gen Manager

By Lenn Robbins

As you drown your sorrows in whatever libation you prefer at Sunday brunch or during Sunday Night Football, no doubt there will be lively discussion and debate as to how and why the Yankees lost this ALCS to the Astros, 4-2, especially after winning Game 1 in Houston.

Was it in the top of the 11th inning of Game 2 when Gary Sanchez, owner of one of the most retched postseason performances in Yankees history, struck out looking with runners on first and second?

Or was in Game 3 when the Yankees had runners in scoring position in four of the first five innings and couldn’t get that one key hit off a less-than-dominating Gerritt Cole?

Or perhaps it was Game 5 when the Yankees had bases loaded in the fifth inning after knocking out starter Zack Greinke. But Houston’s Pressly struck out Edwin Encarnacion.

One can even make a case that it was Saturday night’s, 6-4, season-ending heartbreak of a loss in which Jose Altuve’s two-run walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth trumped DJ LeMahieu’s two-run, game tying homer in the top of the frame.

The Yankees got what they wanted, or at least what their strength should have been – a bullpen game – words that make the fingers cramp, but that’s a discussion for another day.  

08/15/19 Cleveland Indians vs New York Yankees at yankee stadium bronx ny #17 aaron boone takes #57 chad green out of the game after giving up 5 runs in the 1st innning

Every game the Yankees lost in the series was winnable, a testament to the depth and resilience of this 2019 team. Despite Sanchez’s batting slump and suspect fielding, Adam Ottavino’s October struggles, Giancarlo Stanton’s battered body and Aroldis Chapman’s hanging slider, the Yankees could have beaten a healthier and more balanced Houston Astros team.

As to why the Yankees didn’t win takes us back to July 31st when the trade line came and went and the Yankees had done nothing to improve their starting rotation. The belief that Luis Severino would return after a season on the injured list and suddenly bolster the rotation in October was at best ridiculously optimistic, at worst, folly.

Only GM Brian Cashman knows exactly what potential deals were on the table. He decided that the asking price for any of the starters that were available was too high. He’s earned that right. Anyone that signed LeMahieu as a free agent and assembled this kind of quality depth has certainly earned that right.

But in a city that judges whether a season is a success or failure in championships or bust, the season busted with Saturday night’s loss.

“No matter how many games we won in the regular season, this is a failure,” Aaron Judge told reporters after the crushing end the season. “I think about the season as a whole, guys getting injured, guys getting back, a lot of ups and downs, I think about missed opportunities and some guys I might not play with again …”

Cashman and Co. need to think about upgrading the starting pitcher. Houston’s Cole, 29, who would have pitched today had there been a Game 7, leads the list of free agent pitchers but the cost will be stunningly high.

Steven Strasburg, 31, will be available if he opts out of a deal that will pay him $100 million over the next four seasons. Zack Wheeler, 30, is on the market but the Mets should be ashamed if they let him cross from Queens to the Bronx.

It’s easy to sit back and suggest how much money a team should dole out but this is the Yankees after all. They have more automaker sponsors than some teams have sponsors.

If the Yankees don’t want to feel the devastation they experienced this October next October, the pitching has to be better. Just look at the starting pitching of the two teams that will play for the world series – Houston and Washington.

Next round’s on me.

Big Maple’s Biggest Performance Lifts Yanks

Robbins Nest

By Lenn Robbins

Credit twitter

   The Yankees are on a plane back to Houston because on the biggest stage, pitching in the biggest game of the season, The Big Maple came up with the biggest performance of his career.

  James Paxton, went pitch for pitch with the Astros Justin Verlander, a strong candidate to win his second Cy Young, and did exactly what the Yankees were hoping for when they acquired the him from the Mariners in November of 2018.

“He’s got to go out and pitch well and set the tone for us,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone told reporters. “Because we want to get on that plane to Houston now, and that starts with Pax.”

You can just hear the flight attendant say, “Please bring your seat backs forward and place your service trays in the upright and locked position,” after Paxton held the Astros to just one run over six innings. He struck out nine, walked four and threw 112 pitches.

Verlander also was good. He struck out nine, didn’t walk a batter and threw 105 pitches. But two of those pitches the Yankees cracked for home runs.

 After DJ LeMahieu tied the score at 1-1 in the bottom of the first, Aaron Hicks gave the Yankees the big hit they’ve been missing in this ALCS, which the Astros now lead 3-2

 Hicks crushed a three-run homer that ricocheted off the right field foul pole in the bottom of the first. Yankee Stadium exploded. Neither team could produce another run, as the Yanks won, 4-1.

  Paxton had a very solid season. He didn’t lose a game in August and September and finished the regular season with a 15-6 record and a 3.82 ERA. But his first two postseason starts were underwhelming and the Yankees, facing an elimination game with Verlander looking to slam the door, got Paxton’s performance of the season. 

“When you think of the Yankees, you think of the postseason,” Paxton told reporters. “They pride themselves on winning and that’s what we do here. I knew that I’d probably get an opportunity of pitching the postseason, and that’s what I wanted to do.

“That’s what I wanted to do when I came here, and that’s what we’re doing now. It’s been a great experience and I want to keep on going.”

The Yankees keep their season going because The Big Maple came up big.

Cole Makes Game 3 a Yanks’ Nightmare Come True

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – OCTOBER 15: Gerrit Cole #45 of the Houston Astros celebrates retiring the side during the sixth inning against the New York Yankees in game three of the American League Championship Series at Yankee Stadium on October 15, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Robbins Nest

By Lenn Robbins

The worst nightmare became a reality Tuesday night for the Yankees. The kind of nightmare that when you awaken, it feels real. Because it was real.

Painfully real.

The Yankees, for the second straight game, faced a dominating Houston starter and they were shut down like the ‘L’ Train on weekends. Gerritt Cole held the Bombers scoreless for seven innings, allowing just four hits in a 4-1 win in Game 3 of the ALCS in Yankee Stadium.

The Astros lead the series 2-1 which doesn’t seem daunting until you consider this:

The team that wins Game 3 in a series tied 1-1, has a 77.1-percent chance of closing it out, according to SABR.org.

The Yankees seem to have no clue – not many teams do – of knowing how to solve Justin Verlander and Cole. Cole, 29, is unbeaten in 25 starts dating back to his last loss on May 22.  He’s 3-0 this postseason with an 0.40 ERA.

Whereas the Yankees hope to get 4-6 innings of solid starting pitching and then turn to the bullpen, one of the deepest in baseball, the Astros count on their starters to go 6-7 innings.

Verlander went six and two-thirds in Sunday night’s Game 2 victory, allowing two earned runs while striking out seven. Yankees starter James Paxton lasted just two and one-third innings.

Luis Severino, the Yankees starter Tuesday night, gave up a 420-foot home run to Jose Altuve, the second batter of the game. He lasted four and one-third innings allowing two home runs and yielding three walks.

“I don’t need to go out there and strike out 300 guys or win 20 games,’’ Severino told reporters earlier in the week. “I just need to go out there and match his stuff.”

He didn’t do that, which isn’t an indictment of the man considering he missed most of the season with shoulder and lat injuries.

The Yankees (and Astros) haven’t announced their starters for Wednesday night’s Game 4. Heavy rains are expected hours before, during and after Wednesday night’s 8:08 p.m. first pitch.

If the Nationals close out their NLCS against the Cardinals, we might see a paradigm shift in pitching philosophy. Teams have become bullpen-heavy.

Washington and Houston boast robust rotations and that has proven to be the more successful approach this postseason. The Yankees might have more time to think about that than they had hoped.

By winning Game 3 the Astros have guaranteed themselves of returning to Houston for Games 6 and 7 if necessary. Verlander and Cole could each make another start.

The nightmare has become reality.