Let’s make predictions for Thursday’s matchup and take a look at why the Yankees can claim the series win.
Jose Berrios was one of the most disappointing starting pitchers in baseball last season, and so far that title might belong to Nestor Cortes Jr. in 2023. Berrios and Cortes will face off on Thursday night to close out a tense four-game series between these two AL East contenders. The Blue Jays enter as slight favorites at -130 on the moneyline.
Yankees vs. Blue Jays Prediction
Oddsmakers might be putting their faith in the wrong lineup here. Yes, Cortes and Berrios have both struggled this season, but Berrios’ struggles have been prolonged. The matchup of a Yankees lineup that finally seems to have its groove (Wednesday night’s loss aside) and is winning without just relying on home runs could be in a great position to take advantage of Berrios’ weaknesses.
It remains to be seen whether Cortes’ struggles will be prolonged, but even after this rough start he isn’t giving up as many hits as Berrios. The Yankees also have the bullpen advantage, which made all the difference on Tuesday night when Toronto’s pen let a 3-3 game turn into a 6-3 Yankees win.
The Blue Jays have the more talented lineup, but that gap is closing quickly as long as guys like Anthony Rizzo, Harrison Bader, and Gleyber Torres continue to support Judge. Yankees +110 feels like the better value in the series finale.
Yankees vs. Blue Jays Prediction: Yankees +110
Yankees vs. Blue Jays Odds
The Blue Jays enter as slight home favorites at -130 on the moneyline. The over/under is 9 runs, and you can get Blue Jays -1.5 at +150.
Cortes’ struggles are the primary reason for Toronto’s status as the favorite here, though home-field advantage is of course a factor. This game might come down to whether Cortes’ rough start has been a fluke or a legitimate sign of what’s to come.
Yankees vs. Blue Jays Key Matchups
Here are the key matchups that could decide Yankees vs. Blue Jays.
Bo Bichette vs. Nestor Cortes Jr.
It’ll be very interesting to see what Bo Bichette can do against Cortes. So far, it’s been Bichette, not Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who has served as the beating heart of the Blue Jays’ lineup in 2023.
One of the true .300+ hitters left in baseball, Bichette entered Wednesday batting .303 over what seemed like a quiet stretch over his last eight games. His season mark is even higher.
Cortes kept hits to a minimum last season but has seen his H/9 rate jump from 6.1 to 9.1 last season. Can he get back to limiting the traffic on the basepaths, or will Bichette’s contact bat extend his struggles? Bichette hits lefties about as well as he does right-handers, and that’s also the case for the Blue Jays as a whole.
Yankees’ Contact Hitters vs. Jose Berrios
The Yankees’ offense has been transformed in the month of May, at least in games Aaron Judge has played. New York hit .227 in April but has that mark up to .262 in May as Judge, Anthony Rizzo, and even Anthony Volpe begin to surge. Berrios is the type of pitcher who could allow that trend to continue.
While control issues plagued him early in his career, his terrible 2022 season was just the result of being hit around. No AL pitcher allowed more hits (199). He’s been able to bring down his hit rate and home run rate this season, but the decrease is fairly marginal at 9.4 hits per nine so far.
If the Yankees are going to truly be this team that can hit for contact and doesn’t just rely on home runs, Berrios is exactly the type of pitcher they need to beat up on.
Yankees vs. Blue Jays Starting Lineups
Yankees Starting Lineup
2B Gleyber Torres R
RF Aaron Judge R
1B Anthony Rizzo L
3B DJ LeMahieu R
DH Jake Bauers L
CF Harrison Bader R
SS Anthony Volpe R
C Jose Trevino R
LF Oswaldo Cabrera S
Blue Jays Starting Lineup
CF George Springer R
SS Bo Bichette R
1B Vladimir Guerrero Jr. R
LF Daulton Varsho
3B Matt Chapman R
2B Whit Merrifield R
DH Brandon Belt L
C Alejandro Kirk R
CF Kevin Kiermaier L