Venue: Petco Park
First pitch: 8:07 p.m. ET
Probable pitchers: Gerrit Cole (7-3, 2.84 ERA) vs. Blake Snell (4-2, 3.24 ERA)
New York Yankees vs. Tampa Bay Rays Predictions
Just a juicy pitching matchup on display in San Diego tonight, guest host of this best-of-five American League Division Series pitting AL East rivals, the Yanks and Rays.
With baseball establishing its own bubble for the remainder of the playoffs, noting where each series emanates is mandatory before entering your bet(s). In the case of this meeting, Petco Park can make a huge difference in regards to the over/unders.
That’s actually something that makes this evening’s Game 1 matchup so enticing.
First of all, if this were taking place at Tropicana Field under normal playoff conditions (with the Rays entrenched as the AL’s No. 1 seed), there’s no doubt this affair would draw a total of 7. Yet now taking place from one of the most pitcher-friendly ballparks in all of baseball, you’re labeling this clash with the same number?
That’s just wrong — and a mistake that can be capitalized on by bettors. After all, it’s Gerrit Cole, owner of the largest contract for a pitcher in history that New York bestowed to him last winter.
Cole largely lived up to the lofty expectations in his first regular season donning pinstripes, enjoying another ace-caliber campaign that saw him maintain his usual hefty strikeout rate (11.59 K/9) and hold opposing batters below the Mendoza Line (.200) for a third straight season. He’s the only starting pitcher to accomplish that in each of the last two years — let alone three.
Although he surprisingly didn’t fare well in his dates with the Rays this year, I’d rather lean on a callback to 2019 when he absolutely owned them. Cole faced Tampa four times a season ago — including twice in playoffs — and struck out at least 10 in each outing while limiting them to a combined six earned runs across 28.1 innings. All in all, he racked up a whopping 49 strikeouts compared to a mere four walks. Domination, indeed.
So, yeah, I trust Cole to do his thing, especially after how he marveled in his Yankees postseason debut last week in Cleveland, striking out 13 in seven sharp frames. It was reminiscent of the unhittable Cole from last October and one that we’ll be tapping into for this spot. Plus, the current iteration of the Rays lineup really isn’t scary for a top seed.
Blake Snell certainly has that same potential for a shutdown performance here, even despite the legitimately intimidating foe he has to deal with. To evidence that, there’s history to dive into.
Being on the Rays his whole career thus far, Snell has seen the Bronx Bombers plenty and yielded mixed results. He was good against them this season in a pair of abbreviated starts but what leads me to believe he can be successful here is his very solid track record with each hitter.
For instance, the two most dangerous bats, Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge, are a combined 3-for-27 (.111) with 15 punch-outs. That’s a K every other AB.
Additionally, other notable supporting cast players like Luke Voit, Gleyber Torres, Aaron Hicks, Clint Frazier and Gio Urshela have collectively gone a putrid 10-for-68 (.147) off the former AL Cy Young winner.
Great pitchers eventually craft great playoff runs. We’ve seen it from Cole in the recent past and perhaps we’re about to see that from Snell after his stellar first start of this postseason (to pace our under), which was maybe his finest performance of the year up to this point. I’m banking on Snell to keep that going.
Bet: UNDER 7 (-110)
MLB Leans - October 5
2020 MLB Over/Under Betting Record*:
Regular season: “19-42-4,” -28.91 units
Postseason: 4-0, +2.5 units
Last Result: Cardinals-Padres Under 9.5 (WIN)
*Each bet graded as if it were to win 1 unit