A pretty good pitching matchup takes place at Yankee Stadium Thursday afternoon, as Luis Castillo and the Cincinnati Reds visit Nestor Cortes Jr. and the New York Yankees.
The Yankees are the best team in baseball, while the Reds are one of the worst.
Can the Reds compete with the Yankees in this one?
Let’s dive into the starting lineups, betting odds, and my prediction for this Thursday’s matchup.
Cincinnati Reds vs New York Yankees Odds
100-200 words on the odds and how you think the game will play out
Not hard to see why the Reds would be huge underdogs here, even with their ace on the mound.
But the Reds are 7-3 in their last 10 games and have won five in a row. They just recently gave the Yankees their first blown save of the season, in a very unique fashion:
Before tonight, the Yankees were 48-0 when entering the 9th inning with the lead and the Reds were 0-49 when trailing entering the 9th inning.
— Joel Luckhaupt (@jluckhaupt) July 13, 2022
Is it worth looking the Reds way again today?
The wind is projected to be blowing out towards the Short Porch, which could give us a look towards the over, which seems low at just 7.5.
Cincinnati Reds Starting Lineup
L. Castillo R
3-4 2.92 ERA
2B J. India R
DH B. Drury R
LF T. Pham R
1B J. Votto L
C T. Stephenson R
SS K. Farmer R
3B D. Solano R
CF N. Senzel R
RF M. Reynolds R
Cincinnati Reds vs Nestor Cortes Jr.
Talk matchup for team against opposing team/pitcher.
There’s no doubt Cortes is one of the best pitchers in the league. But he was due for some regression and that train has finally pulled into his station.
Cortes had a 1.50 ERA after a June 2 start where he tossed seven shutout innings against the Angels, but he paired that with a 3.11 xFIP. Since then, Cortes has pitched to a 5.34 ERA and a 6.04 FIP over his last six starts.
All-in-all, it’s brought Cortes’ ERA right in line with his xERA, with both standing at 2.74.
Nothing is wrong with that. But how will Cortes perform moving forward?
Cortes is a fly-ball pitcher, which is intriguing in this day and age. During his recent slide, Cortes has allowed a 16.4% HR/FB rate and a .564 SLG allowed. That’s a big problem. Plus, his 4.82 xFIP during the stretch doesn’t imply a huge amount of unluckiness.
Cortes might be slightly overvalued right now.
But while the Reds have been winning games, their lineup hasn’t exactly turned it around. They still have a bottom-five wRC+ over the last month, and the lineup is walking just six percent of the time.
Joey Votto got hot for a bit but is now slumping again, sitting in a 1-for-17 stretch during July.
Image credit: FanGraphs
New York Yankees Starting Lineup
N. Cortes L
7-3 2.74 ERA
1B D.J. LeMahieu R
CF A. Judge R
DH A. Rizzo L
RF G. Stanton R
3B J. Donaldson R
2B G. Torres R
SS I. Kiner-Falefa R
C J. Trevino R
LF J. Gallo L
New York Yankees vs Luis Castillo
Castillo was due for so much positive regression last season after a disastrously unlucky first half. Everything has broken his way this season.
His BABIP has dropped 50 points, and his ERA is still hanging underneath 3.00. But with an xERA and xFIP both in the 3.30 range, I think this level of play is sustainable for Castillo.
Castillo’s strikeouts are slightly up (9.38 K/9), but his walks are way down (2.92 BB/9), and it’s led to a very solid season.
Castillo throws four pitches at the same rate:
Image credit: Baseball Savant
But the interesting difference this season is his changeup is no longer his best pitch. His four-seam fastball has accumulated a -7 Run Value this season while his change sits at +1. While the whiff rate on that changeup has dropped 7% year-over-year, the fastball whiff rate is up 10%.
Perhaps it’s because he’s spinning the ball so much better on his fastballs while his changeup spin rate has dropped slightly.
Image credit: Baseball Savant
Either way, he’s in for a very tough challenge today. The Yankees lead the league in barrel rate, hard-hit rate, and avg. exit velocity. They are the hardest-hitting team in baseball with all the best statistics in baseball, including leading MLB in both home runs and walks.
The Yankees are actually just 5-5 in their last 10 games after a three-game losing streak, but the lineup hasn’t missed a beat, posting a league-high 142 wRC+ over the last two weeks. The Yankees have been 42% better at producing runs than the average MLB lineup during this recent stretch.
Cincinnati Reds vs New York Yankees Pick & Prediction
My picks: Cincinnati Reds ML (+140 at DraftKings Sportsbook)
I’m willing to take the plus-money here with a Reds team that is rolling.
Plus, it’s a good spot to back a rising Castillo against a slumping Cortes. The differences between these lineups are staggering, but the plus-money price makes it worth backing the Reds in the spot.
But I’d be cautious with the price in this spot. If this number falls below about +135, I’d stay away entirely. If the Yankees get bet down to around -130, I’d consider looking the other way.