Pomeranz-Severino Duel To Keep Scoring Low Between Yankees and Red Sox

Drew Pomeranz

Rainman M.

Saturday, August 12, 2017 5:17 PM GMT

Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017 5:17 PM GMT

Oddsmakers have set a fair total considering the talent in both teams' lineups. But a number of factors suggests that there is value in betting the under between the Yanks and Red Sox.
 

Boston Red Sox vs NY Yankees

Game 1 was a thriller. The Yanks could do nothing until the 8th inning, where they plated 5 runs and escaped with a 5-4 win over their rivals Boston.  Except against Toronto starter Nick Tepesch, whose career ERA is close to 5, the Yanks have scored in their past 5 games only 2 runs in the first 5 innings. They’ll look to start strongly against Red Sox starter Drew Pomeranz, who is 1-0 with a 4.09 ERA in 2 starts this season against the Yankees. In order to do so, they’ll look especially to Gary Sanchez, who is 4-for-10 (.400) with 2 home runs in his career vs Pomeranz, and Didi Gregorious, who is 6-for-14 (.429) with a home run in his career vs Pomeranz. The Yanks counter with Luis Severino, who has allowed 1 run in 14 innings pitched vs Boston this season.  For Boston, Dustin Pedroia and Andrew Benintendi have done the most damage against Severino.  Pedroia is 3-for-9 (.333) lifetime with 2 doubles and a home run, and Benintendi is 4-for-8 (.500) with a double against Severino. The next best Boston hitter is batting just .214 lifetime against Severino. The Red Sox lost their 8-game win streak last night, but will look to maintain their 3.5 game lead in the AL East over the Yankees.

Luis Severino (9-4 2.91 ERA) is enjoying a breakout season as the Yankees’ starting pitcher. His ERA is down from 5.83 last season. He is striking out batters at a higher rate while walking fewer and giving up less home runs. Small adjustments to his pitching have produced big changes in his numbers.  He upped the velocity of his fastball—even more, so that it averages 97.5 mph. But he dropped the velocity of his change by over 2 mph and that of his slider by almost 1 mph. As a result, he creates a more significant change of pace that does a better job of keeping hitters off-balance. When they are bracing for his heater, they must endure more surprise when a slower off-speed or breaking pitch approaches them. The change of velocity also enhances the perceived velocity of Severino’s fastball, in that it seems to attack them with more speed when it follows a slower pitch. He is allowing home runs at a lower rate because he is harder to hit and because less of his pitches are being launched into the air. Severino’s ground ball rate is up about 6% from last year. He is utilizing the lower quadrant of the strike zone more often. He is also doing so more effectively by enhancing the vertical movement of his change-up and slider. He has made those pitches more elusive in the way in which they drop out of the reach of the opponent’s bat and more difficult to „catch up“ with because of how they complement his fastball by changing pace. Severino has become a more difficult pitcher to hit and his efforts are paying off for him even in Yankee Stadium, where he has normally been worse than elsewhere. At home, he has given up just 1 run in his last 12 innings pitched. He will look to maintain his good form against the visiting Red Sox.

Drew Pomeranz (11-4 3.36 ERA) counters for Boston. Pomeranz has been steadily improving: his ERA was 4.15 in April but 2.72 in July. Pomeranz relies on a variety of pitches. His key has been to develop those pitches and figure out which ones are working best for him. He has consistently focused on placement—on varying the location of his pitches and placing them on the fringes of the strike zone, on changing pace with an 11 mph average differential in velocity between his fastball and change, and in the variety of movement which his different pitches possess. His most interesting pitch is his curveball. He likes to start hitters off with a fastball. But he can command his curveball well enough to get ahead of the count with it or even to catch up from behind in the count. His curve contains an amazing arc that teases batters who are unable to pick up its spin as it breezes past them. It effectively complements his fastball when he throws the latter up in the zone and then follows with a curveball that creates the illusion of landing up in the zone, only to cause batters to freeze or whiff when it breaks with significant vertical movement. Batters often have trouble discerning which pitch is approaching them and, given the difference in velocity and movement in each pitch, have trouble reacting. Pomeranz is also developing his sinker and cutter. He has thrown them more often while improving throughout the season. He induces more ground balls with them but also generates a high frequency of whiffs with his cutter, which seems to cut not as much or in the exact direction that batters expect, so that they are unable to track its movement or make decent, if any, contact with it. He deceives batters’ expectations with it by letting it start inside the strike zone and then tail away or start outside the strike zone and tail towards it. He uses his cutter to expand the strike zone, which creates a larger margin of error for his location of pitches. Pomeranz has already proven himself capable of shutting down the Yankees in New York and will look to keep improving his form in order to achieve his second win this season in Yankee Stadium.

The Verdict

Both starting pitchers are in strong form. But neither lineup inspires the same hope. After a sizzling first-half, the Yankees lineup is producing just a .699 OPS (on-base plus slugging; average is around .730) in 9 games in August. Their OPS vs lefties is only .07 higher on the season. The Red Sox are in stronger form but haven’t had success against Severino this year. Their greatest difficulty against Severino is with his velocity. The Red Sox have well below-average numbers against high-velocity pitches. Severino matches up well with the Red Sox and Pomeranz has an ERA of 1.50 or lower in 3 of his last 4 starts. A pitching duel is in store on our MLB Picks.

Free MLB Pick: Under‘ 4.5 1h
Best Line Offered: at Heritage

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