The New York Yankees are, all of a sudden, bad. They are 4-11 in August and 9-17 in the second half. The pitching staff has been abysmal and the offense even worse.
Luckily, they built up so much goodwill in the first half that their opponent today, the Toronto Blue Jays, are still a full 10 games back in the AL East.
Can the Yankees get back on track in this game? Or will Toronto’s ace Kevin Gausman shut down the slumping Bombers in the Bronx?
Let’s dive into the starting lineups, betting odds, and my prediction for this Friday’s matchup.
Toronto Blue Jays vs New York Yankees Odds
I don’t understand why the Yankees are laying money here. Heavy money has come in on New York, moving the line over -130 at some books, but I still don’t understand the pricing.
This feels like a case of the wrong team being favored. The Blue Jays are hot, and Gausman is one of the best pitchers in baseball. The Yankees are short-handed, can’t hit the broad side of a barn, and are relying on an inferior starting pitcher in Jameson Taillon.
But can we take the Jays as an underdog considering this could be a trap line?
Let’s investigate this more.
Toronto Blue Jays Starting Lineup
DH G. Springer R
1B V. Guerrero R
LF L. Gurriel R
C A. Kirk R
RF T. Hernandez R
SS B. Bichette R
3B M. Chapman R
2B S. Espinal R
CF R. Tapia L
Toronto Blue Jays vs Jameson Taillon
I’m impressed with the strides Taillon has made over the past few seasons. He’s just incredibly consistent, producing an ERA, xERA, FIP, and xFIP between 3.81 and 4.02 in 2022. As a result, he gives the ridiculously talented Yankees offense a chance to win, something they’ve done in 17 of his 23 starts this year.
There is just nothing special about Taillon’s game. He’s a 94mph fastball-heavy pitcher who avoids walks and mostly avoids hard contact. He won’t strike out too many guys but, again, will give your team a chance to win.
But can he battle with this Blue Jays offense?
History says yes. Taillon has made four starts this season against the Yanks to the tune of a 2.01 ERA. His xFIP in those starts is closer to 3.34, but that is still great against a lineup as stacked as the Blue Jays.
The Jays are the fifth-best offense in baseball per wRC+, and it’s led by the talented duo of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette. But it’s important to shine a light on the biggest breakout talent in Canada this season – Alejandro Kirk.
Kirk is the most productive catcher in baseball per fWAR, and his 137 OPS+ combined with the solid defense has made him a fan favorite in Toronto and around the league. He’s a huge reason the Jays are in a top Wildcard position.
New York Yankees Starting Lineup
2B D.J. LeMahieu R
RF A. Judge R
1B A. Rizzo L
3B J. Donaldson R
LF A. Benintendi L
DH G. Torres R
C J. Trevino R
CF E. Florial L
SS I. Kiner-Falefa R
New York Yankees vs Kevin Gausman
Gausman has been undervalued in the Cy Young markets all season. Nobody has more fWAR this season than Gausman, with 4.4. He pairs a 10.45 K/9 with a 1.54 BB/9, and as a result, his 2.08 FIP is better than almost any qualified pitcher.
But his 3.16 ERA has kept his stock down. It’s somewhat unfair, but that’s baseball.
Gausman’s split-finger fastball is arguably the most effective pitch in baseball. The Whiff rate on the pitch is almost 45% – which has helped fuel his 99th percentile chase rate – and it’s produced a whopping -12 Run Value this season. Opposing hitters are batting just .182 off the pitch.
Good luck to the Yankees today, who are just reeling following the injuries to Giancarlo Stanton and DJ Lemahieu. Plus, the Yankees are also just 19th in Weighted Splitter Runs created, at -3.3.
Over the past two weeks, the Yankees are 27th in wRC+, at 80. For a team that was once on pace to post all-time offensive numbers, this is a very surprising development.
However, the Yankees were always due for a bit of negative regression. They are not the Dodgers. Luckily, they should still take down the AL East despite the issues they’re facing.
Toronto Blue Jays vs New York Yankees Pick & Prediction
My picks: Toronto Blue Jays ML (+110 at DraftKings Sportsbook)
Gausman is an undervalued pitcher going up against an overvalued offense. The Yankees have advantages in the bullpen, but the Jays reinforced their relief core during the trade deadline and can mitigate that disadvantage.
The Jays hit the ball just as hard as the Yankees and, although they are just 5-9 in August, are seeing the ball better than their opponent right now. Plus, they have a fully healthy roster.
The Jays should be laying at least -110 in this game, if not -120. I’ll bet the inefficiency.