With the Yankees beating the Twins to keep their season alive our MLB handicapper analyzes the series and odds available as they move on to take the Cleveland Indians in the American League Division Series.
The New York Yankees prevailed over the Minnesota Twins in the AL Wild Card play-in game and earned a spot in the AL Divisional Series with a date with the Cleveland Indians. The Indians are heavy favorites in this series with chalk as high as -160 right now at 5Dimes. Let’s inquire upon both teams’ performances over the last month in pitching, offense, and defense to see where they rank. As I said in my last MLB picks preview, looking at the entire year is great, but how these teams are playing right now is more important.
The Cleveland Indians have been #1 ranked in accrued WAR over the entire season and also over the last 30 days. Even though the Yankees have been 7th on the year and 3rd over the last 30 days, they still have an FIP of 4.01 versus an elite FIP of 2.69 for Cleveland’s starters over that timeframe. A huge difference between the two staffs is HR/FB%, where the Indians hold a 10.8% to 18.8% advantage over the last month. Advantage Indians, especially with Severino starting the Yankees wild card game.
The Yankees have the #1 ranked bullpen over the last 30 days with a 2.62 FIP and an extremely good 6.0% HR/FB rate. Right behind them, and ranked 3rd, is the Indians with a higher groundball rate and 2.55 FIP. In single game situations I like to focus on walk rates, and in this matchup, the Indians actually have a significant bullpen advantage in this regard. With the Indians starters being so good lately, they have had to log fewer bullpen innings as well. I’m going to call this matchup a push.
The offenses of these two teams also look to be a push and are ranked #1 and #2 in accrued WAR over the last 30 days. They both have a team .275 batting average over that time frame, although the Yankees have a slight edge in wRC+ at 124 to 118. Even the batted ball profiles of these offenses are strikingly similar. Another push for these two squads here.
With only full year stats available for defensive accrued WAR it appears that the Indians have an advantage. They are ranked 8th in the league in overall defense while the Yankees are ranked 14th. Being that this is a small sample size situation I’m not going to put much stock in this apparent Cleveland advantage.
With the Yankees 3rd in starting pitching over the last month, and the other overall statistics being very similar, I see some wagering value in taking New York as an underdog in this series at +140. At the very least those plus MLB odds could open up some hedging opportunities, should this series should go the distance.