It's almost like they never left. The Yankees are back in Houston -- the same place they ended the 2013 season -- to start the 2014 season, one which the hope will instead end with a World Series championship, and not a three game sweep of the Astros. Although, a three game sweep of the Astros would be a good way to kick-off the season.

The Yankees have very real expectations of winning it all this season after spending nearly half a billion dollars this past winter on free-agents such as Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran and Masahiro Tanaka. After missing the playoffs last season, the Yankees want nothing more than to get back on top.

Getting back to the promise land would also be the best possible way for Derek Jeter to go out. As you know, this will be the final season of his legendary career, and it all starts this week in Houston. The Astros have been planning a pre-game ceremony for Jeter in this series that will take place before game three on Thursday. Former teammates such as Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens are expected to be in attendance.

  Yankees Lineup Astros lineup
 Jacoby Ellsbury CF  Dexter Fowler CF
 Derek Jeter SS  Robbie Grossman LF
 Carlos Beltran RF  Jose Altuve 2B
 Brian McCann C  Jason Castro C
 Mark Teixeira 1B  Jesus Guzman 1B
 Alfonso Soriano DH  Chris Carter DH
 Brett Gardner LF  Matt Dominguez 3B
 Brian Roberts 2B  L.J. Hoes RF
 Kelly Johnson 3B  Jonathan Villar SS

 

Pitching matchup preview: CC Sabathia vs Scott Feldman

Making his 6th straight Opening Day start for the Yankees, and 11th Opening Day start overall is CC Sabathia, who is also looking to rebound after an absolutely terrible 2013 season, in which he finished 14-13 with an ERA of 4.78, a career-worst.

Sabathia told the media on Monday that being the ace of the staff, it's his job to get the ball rolling with a good start to begin the season.

"After having a bad year last year and not helping the team, we want to get back to the playoffs," Sabathia said. "I think it starts with me."

Sabathia is coming into the season after a great spring in which he threw the ball very well, and tossed a combined 17 scoreless innings in his final three spring starts. He lost a lot of weight during the offseason, and some of his velocity went with it, meaning that Sabathia will need to reinvent himself as a pitcher this season in order to get the job done.

Sabathia says that he's spent a lot of time with former teammate Andy Pettitte during the offseason, trying to learn a cutter to add to his pitch arsenal. He says that the cutter remains a fourth pitch for him, and that he had a lot of success getting groundballs with it during spring training.

Pitching for the Astros tonight is Feldman, who gets the call as Houston's Opening Day starter one year after beginning the season as the No. 4 start for the Chicago Cubs.

Yankees fans might have a little bit of info on Feldman already after he was traded from the Cubs to the Baltimore Orioles a couple weeks before the trade deadline last season.

After going 12-12 with a 3.86 ERA in 30 starts, the right-hander hit the free-agent market and signed a three-year, $30 million deal with the Astros. He'll be their fifth different Opening Day starter in the last five seasons.

OPENING THREAD QUESTION: In your mind, how good are the Yankees' chances to win the World Series this season? Start the conversation below!

For full game coverage, follow @GavinEwbank on Twitter below.