The New York Yankees open a big 3-game series in Toronto against the Blue Jays Monday NIght, and we share our game analysis & free MLB pick.
While the playoff race in the National League is only between the Pirates and Cubs for hosting the Wild Card game, the American League offers far more excitement. Part of the extra tension is the battle in the AL East between the New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays who open a 3-game set Monday.
Divided by just 2½ games with Toronto in the lead, the clubs get things underway at Rogers Centre a little past 7 PM (ET), the Blue Jays also with the advantage on the MLB odds behind stud southpaw David Price. Generally listed in the -230 to -240 range on the moneyline, Price and the Jays will be facing New York swingman Adam Warren, 5Dimes showing an 8½ run total that is carrying extra juice on the 'under.'
New York has been on top in this series for the most part this millennium, winning or tying the season battles 13 times from 2000-2014. The Blue Jays have swung that around to their advantage this season by taking 11 of the 16 clashes, including a pair of 4-game win streaks over the Yankees in 2015. At Rogers Centre, the Yankees hold a slight 106-100 edge since the park opened in 1989, and the only series they won this year did come on this diamond. It's a level 3-3 in the six collisions north of the 49th parallel, and playing the 'under' on the MLB odds has been the way to go with five of the matchups never reaching the scoreboard barrier.
Can Warren & Bullpen Hold Off Jays Lineup?
New York (82-66, +3.0 units) is closing off a 9-game trip that started by taking two of three from both the Rays and Mets, using a late rally on Sunday Night Baseball to secure the series against their New York rivals. The Blue Jays are the last team currently above .500 the Yankees will face on the regular season docket.
It's possible that Warren could pitch into the sixth tonight, but we shouldn't expect more than about 80 pitches from the former Tar Heel. Monday is his second straight start after 25 relief appearances, and he stuck around for just four frames and 65 heaves last Tuesday in a road loss to Tampa Bay. The righthander has been far more effective at home in 2015, his 4.29 road ERA more than two runs higher than when Warren works in the Bronx.
Even if he was full stretched out to start, it would still be tough to handle more than six innings against this Blue Jays lineup. Warren has done a solid job against Toronto in the past, however, tonight being his second career start against the Jays to go with 14 relief outings and pitching to a 1.93 ERA in 16+ combined frames.
Price Seeking Lucky 13th Career Win Vs. Yankees
This set is the middle of the final homestand for Toronto (85-64, +7.7 units) in 2015, and it didn't start that well by dropping two of three to the Boston Red Sox. Both were 1-run setbacsk, including a 9th-inning meltdown by the bullpen on Sunday, leaving the Blue Jays 0-3 in 1-run affairs this month, and 13-27 in such contests this season.
Price has plenty of experience against the Yankees after seeing them frequently from 2008-14 while pitching for Tampa Bay. Monday will be his 29th career start vs. New York, along with one long relief outing in his rookie season, and Price's personal ledger includes a 12-7 record and 4.20 ERA in 184 innings. It's his third go at them since joining the Blue Jays, Toronto splitting the previous two assignments with Price toiling a combined 14.1 frames and allowing three runs. The two hitters in New York's lineup that have given him trouble historically both swing from the left side, Jacoby Ellsbury and Brian McCann. That pair is a combined 30-for-86 (.348) with four dingers.
With no chance of rain and the thermometer still in the low-60s at game time, I expect the Rogers Centre roof to be peeled back for this one. I also expect Price and Toronto to take the dubya, though the moneyline is too rich for my blood. Let's chop that chalk by more than half with a run-line play for my free MLB pick.
MLB pick: Blue Jays -1½ (-115) at 5Dimes
Season: 85-80-4 (+5.30)