While the majority of the betting public looks to a great NCAAF & NFL weekend, it's all about baseball in the Big Apple as the Yankees open a series at the Mets Friday night.
What You Need To Know
The Yankees and Mets haven't both made the playoffs since 2006. The team from the Bronx lost in four games to the Detroit Tigers in that year's ALDS but the Yankees also have been to the playoffs five times since. They aren't quite a lock to make yet in 2015 but should be able to hold on to one of the wild-card spots -- hard to see the Yankees catching Toronto for the AL East title. The Mets lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games in the 2006 NLCS. They haven't been back to the postseason and will finish with just their second winning record since '06. New York is going to win the NL East barring one of the biggest collapses in MLB history. The Mets' magic number as of Thursday was 10. No way the Nationals catch them.
The big player news here is the fact the game is at the Mets' Citi Field means no designated hitter for the Yankees. Thus Alex Rodriguez, the likely team MVP and should be AL Comeback Player of the Year, will only be available as a pinch-hitter. Manager Joe Girardi already said he's not using Rodriguez in the field. A-Rod has not played an inning in the field since May 23 and hasn’t started a game there since April 27. He's also dealing with a knee bruise. That's obviously a big loss as Rodriguez is hitting .255 with 32 homers and 83 RBIs. This will be the first time in his career (not including suspended 2014 season) that Rodriguez will not start a Subway Series game.
The Yankees won two of three from the visiting Mets from April 24-26 but needless to say the current Mets are a vastly superior team to that version. They didn't have Yoenis Cespedes then. He's hitting .295 with 17 homers and 42 RBIs in 43 games with the Mets since coming over from Detroit at the trade deadline. Mark Teixeira came up big for the Yankees in that early series, going 5-for-11 with three homers and 11 RBIs. He's currently out injured. A-Rod was 2-for-11 with a homer. Juan Lagares led the Mets in that series by hitting .500 (6-for-12) with four runs. Former Yankee Curtis Granderson was 4-for-13 with a homer and two runs scored. The Mets didn't have an injured David Wright back then, either.
The Yankees start ace right-hander Masahiro Tanaka (12-6, 3.40). He was terrific last time out, shutting out the Blue Jays on four hits over seven innings with seven strikeouts and no walks. Tanaka has allowed more than three earned in a start just once in his past eight. Tanaka didn't face the Mets in April but had a complete-game four-hit shutout at Citi Field last May in his lone career start against them. Tanaka is 5-2 with a 3.26 ERA this season on the road. Cespedes has seen him easily more than any Met, going 3-for-10 with two RBIs and two strikeouts. This will be on regular rest for Tanaka, his second straight pitching after four days off. The Yankees play it cautious with him when possible, giving Tanaka at least one extra day of rest in 16 of his first 20 starts. Using Tanaka on regular rest again here sets him up to start on regular rest again Wednesday in the series finale against the Blue Jays. The Yankees are 13-2 at sportsbooks in Tanaka's past 15 vs. teams with a winning record.
The Mets counter with lefty rookie and Long Island native Steven Matz (3-0, 1.88). He has made only four big-league starts. HIs last was Sept. 11 in Atlanta, where Matz allowed one run and six hits over five innings in a win over the Braves. His lone start at home was his big-league debut on June 28 vs. the Reds where Matz allowed two runs over 7.2 innings in a victory and also had four RBIs at the plate. He is the only major-league pitcher to drive in four runs in his first career game.
Final Betting Analysis
Both pitchers are unfamiliar to the opponents. The Mets have won 12 of their past 15 series openers. The Yankees are 1-5 in their past six vs. teams with a winning record which makes them a risky MLB pick to kick this one off. The 'under' is 4-1 in Tanaka's past five interleague starts.
MLB Free Picks: Mets (-107) and 'UNDER' 7 at Pinnacle