MLB Regular Season
Matchup: New York Yankees at New York Mets
Date/Time: September 18, 7:10 p.m. ET
Pitching Matchup: Masahiro Tanaka (12-6, 3.40) vs. Steven Matz (3-0, 1.88)
MLB Betting Odds From BetDSI Sportsbook
Moneyline: Yankees -115
The Yankees should close a road favorite against the Mets on Friday night with ace Masahiro Tanaka on the mound against Steven Matz. These two teams are both en route to the postseason, but this series does not really have playoff implications. The Mets are coasting to a division title in the NL East, while the Yankees are basically guaranteed a playoff spot. The only thing left to be decided is if the Yankees will make the playoffs as a division champion or a wild card. As play begins on Friday, the Yankees are 3.5 games in back of the Toronto Blue Jays for the division.
The Subway Series is always an exciting time in the Big Apple and this should be a particularly interesting series. Even though neither team has a great sense of urgency, citywide bragging rights are on the line and this is a good test for both teams. The Yankees are without Mark Teixeira and this series in a National League park will force Alex Rodriguez to saunter around the infield at either first base or third base. This will also be a good test for both offenses with some quality pitchers on the mound throughout the weekend.
Masahiro Tanaka opted for rest and rehab over Tommy John surgery and he’s managed to stay in the rotation for most of 2015. He missed time from April 23 to June 3, but he has taken his regular turn in the rotation since and is having another fine season. Tanaka is 12-6 with a 3.40 ERA, a 3.87 FIP, and a 3.26 xFIP. The Yankees probably expected a little more dominance when they paid the enormous posting fee to get Tanaka to come stateside and then gave him a seven-year, $155M deal.
Tanaka’s only real blemish this season is a very high home run rate. Regardless of which metric you use, 1.38 HR/9 or 16.3 percent HR/FB is a bad number. Tanaka has allowed 22 home runs in 22 starts, but he showed just how valuable he can be in his last start against Toronto when the Yankees avoided a sweep with his seven shutout innings. He still possesses elite control and a .245 BABIP is an example of his excellent pitchability by changing speeds and keeping hitters off balance.
Steven Matz, amazingly, started the season in High-A for the Mets. After two starts, he moved up to Double-A. After two more starts, he moved up to Triple-A. Fourteen starts later, he was in the big leagues. Matz has a ton of upside as a swing-and-miss lefty with good control stats at the lower levels of the minors. This will be just his fifth start at the MLB level this season as a lat injury kept him out of action from July 5 to September 6. He’s been on a pretty strict pitch count in his two starts back, both solid outings against Miami and Atlanta. With four home runs allowed in 24 innings and a slightly elevated walk rate, advanced metrics don’t look too kindly on his performance, with a 4.73 FIP and a 4.04 xFIP.
It’s hard to figure out what to expect from Matz. He only struck out two in five innings against Atlanta after 20 strikeouts in his first 19 innings. The Yankees, even without a DH in the lineup, still have a lot of hitters capable of doing damage, but the table setters are left-handed and Matz throws left-handed. Run support may not be in the cards for Matz either. The mishandling of his injury by manager Terry Collins and the entire Mets front office could have created a much bigger problem, but he did not show any velocity loss in his first two starts back.
MLB Expert Pick: New York Yankees
Steven Matz has a lot of upside, but the Yankees are going to make him work for his outs and that means that Terry Collins will be going to the bullpen early. As good as the Mets bullpen has been, I’d take the Yankees bullpen over theirs and that’s the reason I’m looking at the Yanks here. This should be a close, low-scoring affair, and having the Yankees pen at -115 in a close game or with a lead is very attractive.