It is the rubber match in the division confrontation between Toronto and New York. For those formulating MLB picks, the pitching matchup is a head scratcher, lacking much certainty.
The Yankees are a sinking favorite and the total has fallen like the weight off of Penn Jillette of Penn and Teller (105 pounds), with those absorbing the betting odds not certain C.C. Sabathia is ready to resume his prior dominance.
Here is a breakdown of what to look for in the series finale.
Toronto Bullpen Exposed Already
The Blue Jays held a 3-1 lead going into the bottom of the eight last night at Yankee Stadium. Last season the Toronto bullpen was problematic and was among the poorer groups in the American League and cost their team several victories.
Reliever Aaron Loup gave up two hits and hit a batter in the three hitters he faced. His replacement Brett Cecil walked a batter and gave up a hit to Chase Headley and suddenly if you had the Jays for MLB picks, your two run lead was turned into a 4-3 deficit and an eventual loser.
Every team is going to have blown saves, but based on last season, this is a warning shot and it will not matter how many home runs Toronto will hit if they cannot hold leads. For tonight’s contest one area that should be in their favor is having a 181-151 record after a game when their bullpen blew a save.
New York Needs more Plate Discipline
Other than Jacoby Ellsbury, nobody has started the season for New York swinging the bat effectively. The Yankees are batting .175 as a team and while that is not a time to panic after two games, it points to this lineup card manager Joe Girardi is filling out has holes which are likely to be persistent all year.
No question when R.A. Dickey’s knuckleball is dancing like last night, there is going to be rotten at bats. But what is noticed by anyone working the MLB betting odds is Yankees hitters along with many other in baseball are letting pitchers dictate the game and batters are guessing too much on pitches thrown and are falling behind in counts.
With Toronto’s hard-throwing starter tonight, Yanks hitters need to sit dead red the first couple times at the dish and see if his secondary’s tosses are effective before chasing whatever they are seeing or are expecting to see.
Pitching Matchup – Norris vs. Sabathia
Daniel Norris earned a $2 million signing bonus right out of high school and last year the 21-year lefthander went from High-A ball in the minors to pitching for the Blue Jays last September. Norris has a darting 92-94 MPH fastball, but can dial it up to 96-97 with ease. His arsenal also includes a curve, slider and changeup. He faced New York in relief back on Sept. 21 and was taken yard by catcher Brian McCann.
C.C. Sabathia only made eight starts last season with the discovery of degenerative knee cartilage that was repaired by surgery. Having last pitched in a game on May 10, he was coming off his worst statistical season in 2013, going 14-13 with a 4.78 ERA. The big lefty has seen a significant drop in velocity from the mid to upper 90’s to low 90’s and slider lacks the same bite of his younger days. Sabathia is 10-1 with a 2.81 ERA in his last 12 starts versus Toronto, but was tagged for nine runs in 10 innings in spring training, which has to at least be a warning sign to MLB baseball handicappers.
Chase Headley being a switch hitter should have value since it is presumed the young Norris will be a pitch count and if Headley has to flip to bat left-handed against Toronto bullpen, he should have confidence coming off two hits including the game winner last evening.
With the adjusted total which will be mentioned below, other than shortstop Jose Reyes (because of weak group today); there might not be many good choices available.
Odds and Outcome
Sportsbooks sent the Yankees out as -130 favorites and at last look this AL East encounter had been moved to a Pick. The total began at 8 and has slid all the way to 7, with the anticipation of presumed good pitching and chilly weather a factor.
New York has for years enjoyed good success against left-handers and while Norris might end up being a star for Toronto, he’ll most likely be on a short lease and Yankees hitter like last night will not mind taking cuts against the Jays bullpen. As long as Sabathia is not crushed earlier, I like the Pinstripes to win and take the series.
MLB Free Picks – New York wins