Scuffling Pitchers Leads to ‘Over’ Pick in Yankees-Royals Opener May 16

cc sabathia

Matthew Jordan

Monday, May 15, 2017 8:08 PM GMT

Monday, May. 15, 2017 8:08 PM GMT

The New York Yankees lead the AL East Division but are struggling a bit as they begin a six-game road trip Tuesday night (8:15 ET) by visiting surging Kansas City. It looks like arguably the worst pitching matchup of the night.

MLB Season Record: 14-8

New York Yankees At Kansas City Royals (-105, 8.5)

The Bronx Bombers open a three-game series Tuesday night in Kansas City with a first pitch scheduled for 8:15 p.m. ET.

Hopefully you read our article here at SBR over the weekend on the Yankees’ struggles recently in games they retired one of their players’ numbers. New York had been 1-3 in number retirement games featuring Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada (the lone win), Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte. That number fell to 1-4 Sunday night when Derek Jeter’s No. 2 was retired as New York was beaten by Houston 10-7 as the Astros teed off on Yankees ace Masahiro Tanaka, who allowed eight runs and four homers in just 1.2 innings. It was the worst start of his career and the Yankees’ fourth loss in five games.

One of the Yankees’ strengths this season has been its bullpen, but that was weakened when fire-balling lefty closer Aroldis Chapman was placed on the disabled list Sunday with left rotator cuff tendinitis. Chapman has seven saves with a 3.55 ERA and 21 strikeouts in 14 appearances this season. He had been hit hard his past two outings and his velocity was down a few ticks. The four-time All-Star's average fastball velocity has dropped from a major-league high 100.9 mph last year to 98.2 mph this year.

Chapman is going to miss at least a month with Dellin Betances as the closer in Chapman's absence. Betances converted 12 saves in 17 chances last year. The Yankees will be just fine in the ninth inning with Betances, but now they have a gaping hole in the eighth inning.  The Yankees recalled Chad Green from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to replace Chapman in the bullpen.

The Royals are last in the AL Central but only 4.5 games out of first place as of Monday. Kansas City is playing much better of late in winning four straight and six of seven. The Royals swept the visiting Baltimore Orioles over the weekend, taking each game by a run. The offense has kicked into gear since manager Ned Yost moved shortstop Alcides Escobar to the leadoff spot. Kansas City is still last in the majors with 119 runs, though. Alex Gordon has been awful with a .152 average and 30 strikeouts.

 Tuesday’s Probable Pitchers

I’m frankly surprised this total isn’t higher on the MLB odds with two struggling veterans on the mound (it's probably going to rise from its open of 8.5). It’s big lefty CC Sabathia (2-2, 5.77) for the Yankees. He has allowed at least five runs in his past three starts after beginning the season with three good outings (2-0, 1.47). Sabathia gets drilled early, with an 8.14 ERA in the first three innings of games this season compared to a 2.70 ERA in innings four through six.

Sabathia last faced the Royals in in 2015 and beat them in his lout start, allowing one run over seven innings. Gordon is just a career .161 hitter in 31 at-bats off him. Escobar is 3-for-11 with two doubles. Mike Moustakas is 1-for-6 with an RBI.

Royals right-hander Jason Hammel (1-4, 5.97) has allowed at least five runs in two of his past three outings and was tagged for seven of them Wednesday at Tampa Bay along with a season-high 13 hits in seven innings. Hammel has a 1.93 ERA in the first two innings of games and an 8.71 ERA after that with opponents batting .363 against him. Chase Headley has faced Hammel more than any Yankee, going 7-for-25 with five RBIs. Matt Holliday is 6-for-19 off him with a homer. Chris Carter is 2-for-14 with a homer and eight strikeouts.

The ‘over’ is 6-0 in Sabathia’s past six series openers and 17-6 in the Royals’ past 23 vs. a lefty. That’s the clear MLB pick here.

Free MLB Pick: ‘Over’ 8.5Best Line Offered: BetOnline

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