MLB Regular Season
Matchup: New York Yankees at Toronto Blue Jays
Date/Time: September 22, 7:00 p.m. ET
Pitching Matchup: Luis Severino (4-3, 3.12) vs. Marco Estrada (13-8, 3.14)
MLB Betting Odds From BetDSI Sportsbook
Moneyline: Toronto -135
The lead is up to 3.5 games for the Toronto Blue Jays in the AL East after a 4-2 win on Monday night in the series opener against the New York Yankees. The series continues on Tuesday night and the Yankees have a much better chance to win this game according to the oddsmakers. The Jays were more than a two-dollar favorite with David Price on the hill against Adam Warren on Monday. The Yankees will look to Luis Severino in this one as the 21-year-old squares off against Marco Estrada in a big game for both teams. The Yankees can give themselves a chance to win the series and cut the deficit to 1.5 games or the Blue Jays can move one big step closer to clinching their first division title since 1993. They won the World Series that year.
Assuming the Blue Jays win the division, the Yankees will look back and wonder what went wrong. It’s safe to assume that they will point to their losing record against Toronto as a major culprit. The Blue Jays enter play on Tuesday with a 12-5 record against the Bronx Bombers and have outscored them by 27 runs in the season series. The Yankees have only scored 50 runs over these 17 meetings, which is less than three runs per game. Toronto has won seven of the last eight head-to-head meetings.
Luis Severino was born a few months after the Blue Jays won the World Series in 1993. The Yankees have placed a lot of trust and confidence in the 21-year-old, who was the best pitching prospect in their system prior to his call-up on August 5. The international free agent signed with the Yankees in 2011 at just 17 years of age, but he had a relatively quick route to the big leagues given his background. It will be interesting to see how the Yankees handle Severino the rest of the season. He has already set a new career high in innings pitched with 142.2 and he has a small frame for a right-hander at 6-foot, 195 lbs.
The Yankees didn’t make a big splash at the trade deadline to acquire a pitcher because they had Severino in Triple-A. Because of that, it’s hard to imagine them pushing him too much, both in this start and over the rest of the season. When he is in there, he has been effective. He’s 4-3 in eight starts covering 43.1 innings with a 3.12 ERA, a 4.18 FIP, and a 3.71 xFIP. An elevated walk rate and a high home run rate have combined to hurt his FIP. More importantly, the elevated walk rate has limited his efficiency, which is why he is only averaging a little bit more than five innings per start. One of the hurdles for young pitchers is how they adjust facing a team for a second or a third time. Severino was rocked for six runs in 2.1 innings the second time he faced Toronto. He’ll need to make some adjustments in this start.
Marco Estrada has ridden one of the league’s best changeups to a stunning 2015 campaign. Estrada has set career bests in wins, innings pitched, ERA, and HR/FB%. The league change was supposed to hurt him, but some very fortunate sequencing and batted ball luck have helped him in a big way. Estrada has a 3.14 ERA, but the advanced metrics paint a less rosy picture with a 4.42 FIP, a 4.96 xFIP, and a 4.67 SIERA. The SIERA is far and away the worst of his career. SIERA heavily weighs strikeouts and batted ball types and Estrada is one of the more extreme fly ball pitchers in the league.
Sabermetric stats rarely look favorably on fly ball guys because the expectation is that they will give up more home runs and extra base hits. With Estrada, a below average strikeout rate and an average walk rate also hurt the advanced metrics. Eighty-nine percent of Estrada’s pitches are made up of fastballs and changeups, and those two pitches are 16.5 runs above average combined per PITCHf/x data. He is what he is and he’s doing it well this season. However, it would not be a surprise to see the shine come off and the good fortune go away if you believe in the advanced metrics.
MLB Prediction: New York Yankees
Luis Severino is fearless. That got him into trouble in his last start against the Yankees, but the 21-year-old’s stuff is good enough to make adjustments. Marco Estrada has given up five home runs in his last two starts against the Yankees. He’s been fortunate to only allow six runs over those two starts. The Yankees have a better bullpen than Toronto and all of their most important relievers got a much needed off day on Monday.