Toronto Blue Jays vs. New York Yankees: Predictions, Odds, Best Bets, Starting Lineups (9/21/23)

The Blue Jays and Yankees close out their three-game series Thursday night at Yankee Stadium. A frontrunner for the AL Cy Young award, Gerrit Cole takes the mound for New York against Toronto’s José Berríos.

With Cole on the mound, the Yankees are the betting favorites at -135 on the moneyline, while the over/under is set at 7.5 runs. The prediction here is that the Blue Jays win and the under hits.

Blue Jays vs. Yankees Prediction

Note: all metrics taken before Wednesday’s games

Starting pitchers: RHP José Berríos (11-10, 3.49 ERA) vs. RHP Gerrit Cole (13-4, 2.81 ERA)

Gerrit Cole may already have the AL Cy Young award locked up. He is currently -1800 at DraftKings and -2200 at FanDuel to win the award. He can put an exclamation point on his candidacy with another strong outing against the division rival Blue Jays tonight.

Cole has not allowed a run in his 2 starts against Toronto this season (11-2/3 innings). The Blue Jays are the only team against whom Cole has at least 2 starts this season with zero runs allowed. And it’s not like the Blue Jays just saw him recently, as his last start against them was back in May.

There are a handful of Blue Jays with good career numbers against Cole. The obvious one is Vlad Guerrero Jr., who is 10-for-28 (.357) lifetime against Cole with 2 home runs. George Springer (6-for-18), Alejandro Kirk (7-for-16), Whit Merrifield (6-for-22), and Santiago Espinal (4-for-11) have also had some success against him.

Still, the way Cole has pitched all season, it’s difficult to expect anything other than another Cy Young caliber performance. Over his last 5 starts (31-2/3 innings), Cole has a sparkling 1.71 ERA and 0.92 WHIP. It has been his best 5-game stretch since the start of the season, when he had a 0.79 ERA and 0.79 WHIP through his first 5 starts.

That doesn’t necessarily portend a Yankees victory, however, as the Blue Jays’ José Berríos has also had a very good season and is finishing strong. In his 3 September starts he has a 1.80 ERA and a 0.85 WHIP. He also gets a much easier matchup than Cole does, as the Yankees have struggled at the plate for most of the season, especially against righties.

New York is in the bottom third of the league in most offensive categories this season, and near the very bottom in most categories against righties. They are 29th in average (.220), 27th in OPS (.679) and 25th in wRC+ (88) against righties this season, and they have been even worse over the last month (.197 AVG, .640 OPS, 79 wRC+, all bottom 3 marks).

We expect strong outings from both Cole and Berríos, which is a big reason we’re taking the under in this game, even at the low line of 7.5 runs. However, we see value on the Blue Jays’ moneyline given their superior lineup and the Yankees’ struggles against righties. We try to avoid betting on narratives, but this game also means a lot more to Toronto, who are battling for a Wild Card spot in the American League. It’s hard to ignore the desperation factor that will be looming over this game, which only reinforces the Blue Jays moneyline pick.

Blue Jays vs. Yankees Prediction: Blue Jays’ moneyline (+114), under 7.5 runs (-120)

Blue Jays vs. Yankees Odds

The Yankees are the betting favorites at -135 on the moneyline, while the Blue Jays’ moneyline odds are at +114.

The Yankees are laying -1.5 runs on the spread at +150 odds, while the Blue Jays are getting +1.5 runs at -180 odds.

Given the excellent starting pitchers in this game, it’s no surprise the over/under is set low at 7.5 runs and the odds favor the under at -120 while the over is getting +100 odds.

Blue Jays vs. Yankees Key Matchups

Here are the key matchups that could decide Blue Jays vs. Yankees.

Gerrit Cole vs. patient hitters
For the Blue Jays moneyline pick in our Blue Jays vs. Yankees prediction to pay off, they’re going to have to find ways to manufacture a run or two against Gerrit Cole. That is easier said than done, of course, but one of the best ways they can attack Cole is with good plate discipline.

Toronto is one of the best teams in the league at drawing walks and avoiding strikeouts. They have the 12th best walk rate, the 6th lowest strikeout rate, and the 5th best BB/K ratio. Cole struggled a bit with his command in his last outing, tying his season high with 3 walks and needing 93 pitches to retire 15 batters (5 innings).

All three of his walks in that game came in the first inning, after which he settled down. This is not a recurring issue for Cole, who is one of the league’s stingiest pitchers in terms of free bases. His 2.2 walks per 9 innings is tied for 21st in the majors. Still, for a pitcher with virtually zero weaknesses, it’s one of his few vulnerabilities.

If the Blue Jays can battle through some long at-bats and draw a few key walks, that will go a long way toward manufacturing runs and forcing Cole out of the game early. That is one of their best chances to earn the W in this game.

Bullpen battle
Speaking of forcing Cole out of the game early, that isn’t necessarily a huge advantage considering the Yankees have the best bullpen ERA in the majors at 3.29. Toronto is not far behind at 3.65 (6th), and they have a slight edge over New York based on advanced metrics like FIP.

Toronto has faltered a bit lately, as their bullpen ERA is just 4.48 (18th) over the last month and 5.44 in the last 2 weeks, while the Yankees have remained strong at 3.69 (8th) over the last month.

The Yankees get the edge in this department, but if this game comes down to the bullpens, it’s anyone’s game. The biggest takeaway from the two strong bullpens is that it gives us even more confidence in picking the under in our Blue Jays vs. Yankees prediction.

Blue Jays vs. Yankees Starting Lineups (Projected)

Blue Jays Starting Lineup
RF George Springer (R)
SS Bo Bichette (R)
DH Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (R)
1B Cavan Biggio (L)
2B Whit Merrifield (R)
LF Daulton Varsho (L)
3B Santiago Espinal (R)
C Alejandro Kirk (R)
CF Kevin Kiermaier (L)

Yankees Starting Lineup
1B DJ LeMahieu (R)
RF Aaron Judge (R)
2B Gleyber Torres (R)
DH Giancarlo Stanton (R)
LF Jake Bauers (L)
CF Jasson Dominguez (S)
SS Anthony Volpe (R)
C Austin Wells (L)
3B Oswald Peraza (R)

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Noah hails from Philadelphia and is a diehard Philly sports fan. He graduated from Penn where he was a sports writer and editor for the student newspaper and also spent a summer covering the Baltimore Orioles for MLB.com. He has been playing fantasy sports since before live stats were a thing, and he has enjoyed learning the nuances of DFS in recent years. As a current resident of Florida, he is hoping the wave of sports betting legalization will eventually reach his home state.

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