After winning a 16-inning thriller, the New York Yankees are slated for the third and final game of the series against their division rival, the Boston Red Sox. Although the Yankees boast a +100 run differential, 37 more runs than that of the Red Sox, the Red Sox actually finds itself atop the American League East with a 3.5 game lead over the third-place Yankees. These two historic franchises are considered one of the best rivalries in all of sports and with that, let us take a look at this intriguing Sunday night matchup.
Date – Sunday July 16th, 2017
Time – 8:00PM EST
LINE – BOS -140
Why The Yankees Might Win
The 2017 season has by far been Masahiro Tanaka’s worst year to date – a ghastly 5.47 ERA, 5.03 FIP, and a 1.37 WHIP. To add insult to injury, Tanaka has given up 23 HRs in only 102 innings pitched (2.03 HRs per nine IP) while allowing opponent batters to slash .276/..330/.511. One bright spot for Tanaka has been his K/9 rate at 9.10. However, one bright spot for Tanaka has been his performance over the last month – 2.84 ERA and 1.03 WHIP, with only 2 HRs allowed in 25.1 IP, while allowing holding opponents to a slash line of .217/.287/.315. Although Tanaka was rocked for 5 earned runs in 4.1 IP in his last start against the NL Central first-place Brewers, prior to that, he had recorded three straight quality starts. If the Yankees are going to pull out another win in the race for first place in the AL East, Tanaka must be at his best.
Why The Red Sox Might Win
Similar to Tanaka, David Price’s performance so far this season has not been on par with expectations, although he missed a portion of the season due to injury. Price has compiled a 3.91 ERA, 4.22 FIP, and 1.26 WHIP – not what you’d expect from a former Cy Young Award winner. Opponents have produced a slash line of .235/.307/.397 against Price to-date. While Price’s performance over the past month has been similar, albeit slightly better, than his season performance, his game logs indicate better. Over Price’s last four starts, he has recorded quality starts in all four while giving up zero runs, two runs twice, and three runs.
While Tanaka’s two starts so far this year against the Red Sox have been met with mixed results – a complete game shutout while allowing only three hits with no walks followed by five earned runs allowed in 5 IP and three HRs allowed – he does have the potential to shine against the Red Sox, as proven in the past. On the other hand, Price was absolutely rocked in his lone start against the Yankees this year – 6 earned runs, 8 hits allowed, 2 HRs allowed, and 4 walks in only 5 IP – the Yankees simply feasted that game.
In head-to-head matchups, here are how notable Red Sox batters have fared against Tanaka (average performances excluded):
Mookie Betts: .167/.192/.250 in 24 at-bats with 0 HRs
Xander Bogaerts: .219/.265/.344 in 32 ABs
Jackie Bradley: .091/.160/.136 in 22 ABs with 0 HRs
Here are how notable Yankees have fared against Price (average performance excluded):
Brett Gardner: .250/.317/.306 in 36 ABs with 0 HRs
Gary Sanchez: .571/.667/2.286! with 4 HRs in only 7 ABs – although a small sample size, 4 HRs in 7 ABs is staggering no matter what.
Starlin Castro: .412/.444/.529 with 0 HRs in 17 ABs
Chase Headley: .333/.351/.444 with 0 HRs in 36 ABs
Didi Gregorius: .500/.520/.708 with 1 HR in 24 ABs
Based on the lopsidedness of the head-to-head matchups between Tanaka and Red Sox batters and between Price and Yankees batters, I would give the slight advantage to Tanaka coupled with the fact that the Yankees pulled out an extraordinary 16-inning win to avoid heading into game 3 tonight trying to dodge a sweep. With the Yankees as underdogs in this matchup, I believe there’s value in taking them to win. From our perspective, the value has climbed as the Yankees opened at +125 but have climbed up further to +139. They’ve been struggling recently but this is one spot where they are worth the price of admission.
Pick: Yankees +139
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