After the Blue Jays overtook the Yankees with a three-game sweep last weekend, Toronto sends ace David Price to the bump as the teams begin another three-game set Friday.
The battle for American League East supremacy begins north of the border Friday night, and runs may be scarce when right-hander Ivan Nova and the second place New York Yankees (62-51, 30-30 away) pay a visit to ace southpaw David Price and the first place Toronto Blue Jays (64-52, 39-21 home) in the first game of a huge three-game series from Rogers Centre in Toronto, ON Canada at 7:07 ET in a game televised nationally on MLB Network.
The posted total at Pinnacle Sports is 8 for this contest with the current odds on the ‘under’ set at -119.
11-Game Winning Streak for Second Time
The Blue Jays have now been the winning MLB picks in 11 straight games, the second time this season that they have won that many games in a row, thus making them just the fourth team in the past 100 years to have two streaks of at least 11 wins in the same season. For the record, the previous three teams all advanced to the World Series, where coincidentally all three clubs tasted defeat.
This winning streak has included a three-game sweep of these Yankees on the road in the Bronx last weekend, and when the Yanks then lost two out of three to the Cleveland Indians, snapping a five-game losing streak by winning last night, while the Blue Jays were busy sweeping the Oakland Athletics, Toronto overtook New York and now leads the Yankees by one-half game atop the AL East.
Price in Ace Form
The Blue Jays got the much needed ace starter they needed when that acquired Price from the Detroit Tigers at the trading deadline, and he has been just what the doctor ordered for Toronto thus far. First, he allowed one run and just three hits with 11 strikeouts in eight innings in his Jays debut vs. the Minnesota Twins, and he then followed that up by tossing seven scoreless innings while again allowing just three hits at Yankee Stadium in his second start last Saturday.
Price is now 11-4 at both of his stops this season with a 2.35 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and a fantastic ratio of 156 strikeouts vs. 34 walks in 161 innings. Add in allowing only 0.78 home runs per nine innings and Price grades out to a 2.99 FIP and a 4.1 WAR that ranks eighth in the Major Leagues (fourth in the American League).
Price usually works deeply into games, but in the event he is in need of relief, the Toronto bullpen is on fire as it has not allowed a single earned run while posting a miniscule 0.58 WHIP in 21 innings over the last 10 games. He also now gets to face a slumping Yankee offense that is batting a mere .202 overall over that same 10-game span.
Nova Capable of Minimizing Damage
Nova did not make his belated season debut for the Yankees until June 24 after recovering from Tommy John surgery, and while he has had his ups and downs, the bottom line is he has been effective for the most part posting a 3.52 ERA while going 4-4 in eight starts. Most encouragingly, Nova is averaging 93.0 MPH on his fastball this year while topping out at 95.1 MPH, and he is averaging 92.6 MPH while topping out at 95.5 with his two-seamer!
That is an indication that his arm strength is fine and his command should only get better with each passing start. Remember that Nova won 37 games for the Yankees between 2011 and 2013, and it should not be long until he returns to that kind of form. In the meantime, New York does not really need him to go more than six innings as the Yankees are sixth in the American League in bullpen ERA at 3.23, a figure that stands at 2.11 in the last 10 games.
The Yanks have one of the best one-two punches on the back end of the pen in the majors in set-up man Dellin Betances and closer Andrew Miller, so late tack-on runs should be kept to a minimum by both sides here.
Both Teams Trending ‘under’
Finally, the ‘under’ is 6-2 in the Yankees’ last eight games overall as well as 5-0 in their last five games inside the American League East. Similarly, the ‘under’ is 5-1 in the Blue Jays’ last six games overall and 6-0 in their last six games inside the division.
Look for those ‘under’ patterns to continue in the first game of what should be an intense series with a division title on the line as the New York Yankees head north to Toronto on Friday.
MLB Pick: Yankees, Blue Jays ‘under’ 8 (-119)