Opposing Japanese Superstars Highlight Yankees vs Angels Match-up

Saturday, April 28, 2018 3:26 PM UTC

Saturday, Apr. 28, 2018 3:26 PM UTC

The Angels host the Yankees tonight at 9:07 ET. The odds are about even. But New York is the promising play in this match-up, in which Yankee Masahiro Tanaka will face fellow Japanese star Shohei Ohtani of the Angels.

New York Yankees (16-9) vs Los Angeles Angels (16-10)

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Free MLB Pick: Yankees -101Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

New York‘s Masahiro Tanaka pitched against Angels' pitcher/hitter Shohei Ohtani in Japan when the former was in his last year in Japan and the latter was a rookie. The result of the duel was anti-climactic, but they get to give it another go tonight.

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Bettors should be wary of dismissing Tanaka (3-2, 4.97 ERA) because of his high ERA. Tanaka had three horrible starts, but otherwise shows promise. Between April 5th and April 17th, Tanaka allowed 14 runs, which has caused his ERA to skyrocket. He is learning that his hard stuff is not effective. Tanaka is a better pitcher when he throws his softer stuff more often--foremost his slider and then his splitter.

The first two teams which hurt Tanaka with an ERA of over 4, Baltimore and then Boston, are typically lethal against the slider. Both rank in the top six in terms of slugging percentage against this pitch and both achieved a slugging percentage of over .700 in their respective game against Tanaka. The third team that hit Tanaka hard was Miami, against which Tanaka threw his notoriously atrocious fastball 20% of the time. The Marlins achieved an insane 1.500 slugging percentage against this pitch. Tanaka does not want to throw his fastball too often and he does not want to face a team which hits his favorite pitch, the slider, well.

The Angels match up poorly against Tanaka because they rank in the bottom 10 in slugging percentage against the slider and even his second favorite pitch as well, the splitter. Tanaka did throw his fastball at a 28% rate against the Twins. But he only did so because Minnesota ranks second in slugging against his two favorite pitches. I looked at the movement, velocity, vertical release point, location habits and opposing batting results of his two favorite pitches and there is nothing wrong with how he is throwing them.

Expect much of the slider and splitter tonight and these pitches will carry Tanaka to another good performance against the Angels. In 84 career at-bats, opposing Angels hitters are producing a .226 BA with only two homers against Tanaka. Tanaka has a solid 1.63 ERA in four career starts against them.

Last year, the Yanks hit very well in the Angels' stadium, a .278 BA. Lefties had the most success there. So look out especially for Didi Gregorius who has been smoking hot this week with three games in which he produced at least two hits. He went 3-for-5 yesterday with the game-winning homer to bring his BA to .368 and the Yanks‘ win streak to seven games.

Garrett Richards (3-0 3.46 ERA) counters for LA. Richards has benefited from recently facing the anemic Giants and Royals lineups. Even the Giants slugged 1.500 against his fastball, which is Richards' favorite pitch and which is causing him immense problems. Whereas in his best year opponents slugged .294 against this pitch, they are currently slugging .432 against it. He still pitched well against the Giants because he didn't have to rely on it so much, but could instead lean on his slider.

He has two primary pitches--he throws his fastball 41% of the time and his slider 37% of the time. His slider has been the most effective pitch. Richards is a poor match-up against the Yanks because they rank in fourth in slugging percentage against the slider. If Richards tries his fastball often enough against the Yanks, then trouble looms for him because the Yanks are slugging .692 against fastballs with a velocity of at least 96 mph, which is Richards' average fastball velocity.

Richards' walk rate and home run rate are currently out of control and the Yanks' lineup contains tremendous power with which to take advantage of his precarious command in our MLB Picks.

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