MLB Picks: Pitching To Rule In Yankees vs. Blue Jays Opener

Jay Pryce

Tuesday, April 12, 2016 12:50 PM UTC

Tuesday, Apr. 12, 2016 12:50 PM UTC

The Blue Jays host the Yankees in the first of a three-game homestand tonight. Despite the dangerous bats on both sides, we expect pitching to take centerstage in this one. MLB pick here.

New York Yankees (3-2) – Masahiro Tanaka (0-0, 3.18 ERA)
Off to a 3-2 start, New York's bats picked up right where they left off. Second in runs scored (4.69 per game) to the Blue Jays last season, manager Joe Girardi's club crosses the plate 7.0 times per night to begin the year. The Yankees will need the runfest to continue. They haven't topped the season series in Toronto since 2009, going 3-6 in 2010 and 4-5 every year since.

The Bronx Bombers are 14-6 in road games Tanaka has commanded the hill, and are a perfect 2-0 in two starts in Toronto. He and the pen have baffled Blue Jays' hitters in the past, allowing no more than seven hits in any of his six career starts. Toronto's current roster is batting just .198 (25/126) against the Japanese national.

The UNDER went 7-2 last season when the Yankees took the first pitch at Rogers Centre. The two OVERs occurred following New York's shortest closing lines (-125 and 105 on the MLB odds) of the series, where the visitors jumped the Jays for six runs each in games started by Marco Estrada. Other than those, they failed to score more than four runs in any other game.

For what it's worth, this is just the third time in his career Tanaka will take the hill as a road dog; he's 2-0 in the other outings.


Toronto Blue Jays (3-4) – Aaron Sanchez (0-0, 1.29 ERA)
The Blue Jays bats have yet to wake up, hitting just .233 through the first seven games of the year. What's noticeably missing is the lineup's power. Last season's MLB slugging leaders (.453) rank 23rd (.373) headed into tonight, dead last in doubles.

The young Sanchez looked great in his season debut, despite picking up a no-decision. The hard-throwing right-hander sat down eight, walked none, and gave up one earned run on five hits in seven innings in Tampa a week ago today.

In six career starts at Rogers Centre, Sanchez and the pen have given up just 2.2 runs on 5.8 hits per game, allowing no more than three runs in all but one contest.

His primary pitch is the sinker, which is one of the hardest thrown (97mph) in MLB. It generates a high number of swings and misses with a lot of ground balls. It will be interesting to see if he benefits from the new infield laid at Rogers Centre, which players say is slower than the prior surface.

Like Tanaka, Sanchez has had good success against the Yankees' current roster, though in limited at-bats. The Pinstripers are hitting just .188 (6/32) with Brian McCann, Alex Rodriguez, Chase Headley and Jacoby Ellsbury each going hitless.


Final Analysis
Last season's two best run producers may have difficulty crossing the plate today. In 12 career starts, Sanchez and the Blue Jays staff have yielded 10 hits or more just one time. Since 2010, the Yankees are 8-25 SU and the UNDER 26-6-1 when generating less than 10 hits in Toronto. We're not sure the young arm can duel with the crafty Tanaka all game, making New York as a small dog intriguing. But the primary value in this one may lie in the UNDER 8.5. We'll make the total as our MLB pick.

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Free MLB Pick: Under 8
Best Line Offered: at Heritage 

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