Two of the hottest teams in MLB meet up on Tuesday evening. Both luckily for us and unluckily for them, they happen to play in the same division.
The New York Yankees visit the Toronto Blue Jays attempting to hold New York’s lead in the AL East race. Both teams are playing almost .700 ball entering this big series, and both lineups are hammering the baseball.
However, there are reasons to argue the Yankees have been better in the early going. But are they worth backing with the lackluster Jameson Taillon on the mound?
Let’s dive into the starting lineups, betting odds, and my prediction for Game 2 of this series.
New York Yankees vs Toronto Blue Jays Odds
No surprise that Toronto is laying juice here.
The Blue Jays are just as talented, playing at the Rogers Centre (where they are 10-3 this season) and have Alek Manoah on the mound.
Manoah is a weapon. One of the biggest pitchers in the league (6-foot-6, 260 lbs.), Manoah pairs a solid fastball with some impressive breaking stuff.
Meanwhile, we’re getting Taillon on the other mound, who has never really impressed me or garnered interest from the betting markets. Although he’s been fairly productive over the last 30 starts.
The total may be slightly low at 8, especially with two teams that hit the ball so hard. But three of the last four matchups between these two have gone under.
New York Yankees Starting Lineup
3B Josh Donaldson R
RF Aaron Judge R
1B Anthony Rizzo L
DH Giancarlo Stanton R
2B DJ LeMahieu R
LF Joey Gallo L
CF Aaron Hicks S
C Kyle Higashioka R
SS Isiah Kiner-Falefa
New York Yankees vs Alek Manoah
Manoah has been lights out in the early going.
Over four starts, he’s pitched a whopping 25 innings with just a 1.44 ERA. His xFIP is closer to 4.00, so I’d expect regression. But there’s no reason to complain when he’s notched 25 strikeouts (9.00 K/9) while relatively keeping his walks and hard-hit balls down.
Manoah is excellent at suppressing hard-hit balls, as he ranked in the 93rd percentile in that stat last season (31.2%). He’s on pace to do the same this year.
That’s important because this is a Yankee lineup that only hits balls hard. The Yankees’ 48.6% hard-hit rate is tops in the league, as is their 91.8mph average exit velocity – and both stats lead second-place Toronto by quite a bit.
Manoah has been dangerous playing divisional teams, and that’s no different against the Yankees. In three career starts against the Bronx Bombers, Manoah has managed 17 ⅔ innings with an ERA around 1.5. Again, his xFIP is high (4.30), but Yankee batters have managed just a .209 wOBA in the at-bats.
Toronto Blue Jays Starting Lineup
CF George Springer R
SS Bo Bichette R
1B Vladimir Guerrero R
LF Lourdes Gurriel R
RF Teoscar Hernandez R
3B Matt Chapman R
DH Alenadro Kirk R
2B Cavan Biggio L
C Danny Jansen R
Toronto Blue Jays vs Jameson Taillon
Taillon has always been a 2-to-3 win player, recording exactly 2.0 fWAR with New York in 2021. He’s been playing half-decent in 2022, recording actual and expected statistics in the mid-3.00s (i.e., ERA, xERA, FIP, xFIP).
The best part of Taillon’s game is his control. He generally keeps his walk rate between 5% and 7%, but he’s walked just two of the first 81 batters he’s faced in 2022. He doesn’t miss bats at a crazy rate – it’s even below average – but he rarely misses his spots and always gives the Yankees a chance to win.
As a result, the Yankees are 20-13 in Taillon’s starts since he came over from Pittsburgh.
Expect a six-pitch mix, but you’ll see a typical four-seam fastball about a third of the time. There’s nothing special about it, as it’s league average in both velocity (94mph) and spin rate (2400rpms).
I’d say Manoah has a better chance of shutting down the Yankees than Taillon does of shutting down the Blue Jays.
Everything that was said about New York can be said about Toronto. The Blue Jays hit the ball hard, trailing only the Yankees in hard-hit rate and average exit velocity. The Blue Jays are better from a plate discipline perspective as well, generally ranking in the bottom-five of MLB in strikeout rate.
While Taillon tossed five solid innings against Toronto this season, he pitched 13 innings with an xFIP north of 6.00 in 2021. Regression is coming.
New York Yankees vs Toronto Blue Jays Pick & Prediction
My pick: Toronto Blue Jays F5 ML (-130 at DraftKings)
I’m a believer in Alek Manoah. He has yet to throw less than six innings and allow more than two runs.
Meanwhile, we can reasonably expect Taillon to give up two or three runs on the road against a dangerous Toronto lineup. Toronto is fifth in home wRC+ (116) and runs scored (59).
We’re laying a bit of juice, which is understandable. But, I believe this is the side and would be willing to play it up to -140.