Nobody Rising for the Judge In Yanks vs. Jays Battle

Rainman M.

Friday, March 30, 2018 12:13 PM UTC

Friday, Mar. 30, 2018 12:13 PM UTC

Get ready for Day 2 of the Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton duet as Toronto hosts the Yankees at 7:07 ET. Does New York's power-packed lineup justify laying the heavy chalk?

New York Yankees (1-0) at Toronto Blue Jays (0-1)Free MLB Pick: Toronto First 5 MLBest Line Offered: 5Dimes

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Last year's NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton and AL Rookie of the Year Aaron Judge both lived up to the hype on Opening Day, going a combined 5-for-9 with two doubles and two home runs in a 6-1 win over Toronto. Both homers were hit by Stanton, including one in his first-ever Yankee at-bat, and he had four RBIs.

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Expect a quiet bat from Stanton against Jays starter Aaron Sanchez. Sanchez may have become unknown to bettors because he was basically non-existent last year, posting poor numbers while bouncing on and off the disabled list due to recurring blister issues. But the 25-year-old is past his blister issues, healthy overall and primed to return to his 2015 and 2016 form. His ERA was 3.22 ERA in 2015 and 3.00 in 2016, when he was a Cy Young candidate.

It's unjustifiable to look at how Sanchez pitched against the 2016 Yankees in order to gauge how he will perform against them tonight because that was over a season ago. But one newly-acquired Yankee who won't contribute against Sanchez is actually Stanton. Sanchez relies primarily on two pitches, a fastball and sinker, throwing each at an average velocity of 95 mph. Last season, Stanton faced 91 fastballs and sinkers at this velocity and produced a paltry BA of .187 against them. Stanton struggles against high velocity in general and matches up poorly against Sanchez's high-velocity fastball-sinker combo. Overall, the Yankees rank statistically average in terms of team BA against high velocity (minimum 95 mph pitches) and high-velocity fastballs and sinkers.

Sanchez is a rising talent, but also a proven one, whom oddsmakers are underestimating today on our MLB odds board. He doesn't achieve the amount of strikeouts one would expect from a flamethrower. But he excels at inducing ground balls, doing so at a 56% rate. Sanchez focuses on locating pitches in the recesses of the strike zone where contact is difficult and where any contact made should force an easy play for his defense.

The notoriously inconsistent Masahiro Tanaka starts for the Yanks. Tanaka revealed in 2017 that he was no longer ace material. He could not be relied upon from one start to the next, where he could be very good but then suddenly perform very poorly in his next outing. So how should bettors approach such an inconsistent pitcher? Not lay massive chalk on his team. A wise man taught me that betting baseball is not about figuring out who wins, but deciding which side presents more value in relation to the line set by oddsmakers. Sanchez's resurgence, Stanton and the Yanks' poor matchup against him and Tanaka's inconsistency are three reasons why it would be absurd, from a value perspective, to lay chalk with the power-packed Yankee lineup and Tanaka.

Even when Tanaka improved in the second half of last season, he struggled at Toronto. In two starts in the city of maple trees and Drake, Tanaka was 0-2 with an 8.38 ERA. Slugger Josh Donaldson, who is dealing with arm issues, barely contributed to those two wins and won't be missed if suitable backup Yangervis Solarte, who hit .272 against righties last season, mans the hot corner for him. Watch out for outfielder Steve Pearce, who hit a two-run double in his only at-bat yesterday. He is 5-for-15 with two home runs in his career vs Tanaka.

The Yanks had a top-rated bullpen last season by ERA, while the Jays' still raises questions. So let's stick to a first five play on our MLB Picks.

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