New York Yankees vs Minnesota Twins (6/8/22) Starting Lineup, Betting Odds, Prediction

Two of the American League’s best face off this week, as the AL East-leading New York Yankees travel to play the AL Central-leading Minnesota Twins.

The Yanks have been a machine this season, currently sitting a whopping 24 games over .500 with MLB’s best record (39-15) and second-best run differential (+102). The offense is clicking, the bullpen is doing solid work, and the starters are getting the job done.

Meanwhile, the Twins are overachieving through the first few months. In what was supposed to be the White Sox’s division to lose, the Twins are the only AL Central team with a record over .500. At 32-24, they’ve built a sizeable 4.5-game lead over the second-place Guardians.

We’ll get the newly-minted Nestor Cortes on the mound for the Yankees against the aging Chris Archer.

Who has the edge?

Let’s dive into the starting lineups, betting odds, and my prediction for Game 2 of this three-game set.

New York Yankees vs Minnesota Twins Odds

Cortes has been so good that the Yankees have to be sizeable favorites in this spot. But the Yankees are also MLB’s best team, so I can see how the Twins would be catching sizeable plus-money on the ML.

However, it might be worth looking at Chris Archer and co. as home underdogs. Archer’s held his ERA under 4.00 so far, although his expected metrics aren’t pretty.

The total seems low at just 8. The last five games between these two have gone over, with four of those games having a closing total over 10.

New York Yankees Starting Lineup

2B DJ LeMahieu R
CF A. Judge R
1B A. Rizzo L
DH G. Stanton R
3B J. Donaldson R
LF A. Hicks S
SS I. Kiner-Falefa R
C J. Trevino R
RF J. Gallo L

New York Yankees vs Chris Archer

Archer’s 3.89 ERA stretched out over a full season would be his lowest since 2015 with Tampa Bay (3.33). He’s only pitched 39 ⅓ innings over his 10 starts, and they seem to have him on a pretty strict pitch count. He’s only earned two decisions so far, both losses, and the Twins are 4-6 in his starts.

This will be a bullpen-heavy game for the Twins. It has been lately, as many of Minnesota’s top arms have found their way to the injury list (Joe Rya, Bailey Ober, Sonny Gray).

Archer’s current start likely isn’t sustainable. He pairs his ERA with a 1.35 WHIP and a whopping 5.51 xERA. He’s getting barreled up at one of the highest rates in the league (12.4%) and is barely escaping with a .261 BABIP.

His Savant page isn’t pretty.

Screen Shot 2022 06 07 at 12.04.16 PM

Image credit: Baseball Savant

As he’s gotten older, he’s gotten away from his four-seam and turned into a slider-first pitcher. Smart move, because his four-seam fastball somehow has a +10 Run Value this season, with opponents slugging .721 against that pitch.

The Yankees are not only a top-10 team against fastballs (11.9 Weighted Fastball Runs Created), but they’re also the best slider-hitting team in the league (12.9 Weighted Slider Runs Created). That’s a deadly combination for Archer.

Moreover, no team has a higher barrel rate (11.2%) or has barreled as many balls (152) as the Yankees this season. The Yanks also lead the league in hard-hit rate (44.3%) and avg. exit velocity (90.5mph).

Aaron Judge continues to light the world on fire, being one of three MLB hitters with an OPS above 1.000. Giancarlo Stanton and Anthony Rizzo haven’t been as productive but have combined for 24 home runs themselves. Gleyber Torres is having a slight renaissance as well.

Minnesota Twins Starting Lineup

CF B. Buxton R
2B J. Polanco S
SS C. Correa R
DH G. Sanchez R
3B G. Urshela R
1B J. Miranda R
LF G. Celestino R
RF M. Kepler L
C R. Jeffers R

Minnesota Twins vs Nestor Cortes Jr.

While Judge leads the Yankees in bWAR this season, trailing closely behind him is Cortes, who is beginning to certify himself as a bonafide ace.

Cortes is currently wearing the American League ERA crown, with his 1.50 ERA a few points below the Rangers’ Martin Perez. The Yankees are a whopping 8-2 in 10 Cortes starts this season, including having won five straight.

Cortes is a soft-tossing lefty, but he’s different than your normal slow-pitch Southpaw. He records tons of strikeouts (10.2 K/9), mostly through a combination of his cutter and four-seam. But he isn’t a ground-ball pitcher, and instead records an uncanny amount of fly-ball outs.

Among qualified pitchers, Cortes has the 13th-highest average launch angle (17.1 degrees But he owns by far the lowest xBA, xSLG, and xwoBA. Meanwhile, his ground-ball rate sits well below 40%.

It’s an interesting approach, but it has produced uncannily impressive results. But, that’s essentially the story of his career.

There are very few lineups in baseball that can compete with the Yankees from a batted ball perspective. The Twins are one of those teams, ranking inside the top three in barrel rate (9.9%), hard-hit rate (41.8%), and avg. exit velocity (90.2mph).

It’s nice when you have a healthy Byron Buxton to hit 12 home runs for you. But this Twins team is so incredibly deep. The Twins’ current leaders by bWAR go as follows:

  1. Trevor Larnach: 2.0 bWAR, 136 OPS+
  2. Max Kepler: 1.7 bWAR, 23:29 BB/K ratio, 133 OPS+
  3. Luis Arraez: 1.5 bWAR, 58 H, 24:16 BB/K ratio, .447 OBP, 157 OPS+
  4. Jorge Polanco: 1.4 bWAR, 44 H, 14 extra-base hits, 102 OPS+

The next two go Joe Ryan and Byron Buxton. This is a Twins team that is bigger than the sum of its parts, and the results speak for themselves.

New York Yankees vs Minnesota Twins Pick & Prediction

My picks: New York Yankees ML (-155 at DraftKings Sportsbook)

This is a heavy price to pay. But if Archer’s actual statistics erred closer to his peripherals, we’d likely have to lay above -200 to bet Cortes and co.

Over 142 PAs against current Yankees hitters in his career, Archer has held the lineup to just a .251 xwOBA while striking out nearly 40% of them. But that’s the Archer of old, and his past performance against these guys might only further overinflate the Twins in this situation.

I hate betting road favorites, but considering the Yankees win 80% of the time when Cortes takes the mound, I have to lay money with the ridiculously hot Bronx Bombers.

Tanner joined Lineups to cover everything, but he has vast experience in, and unlimited passion for, Major League Baseball and NCAA Basketball. He’s a McGill University grad and former (Canadian) Division-I alpine ski racer who now spends his time drinking beer and betting home underdogs. Patrick Mahomes is a poor man’s Tom Brady.

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