Is there such a thing as a big series in April?
I think so. I used to hate when people would argue that games in August and September are the only ones that matter. What, these games in April don’t count toward your record? Don’t tell New Yorkers that. They are booing Giancarlo Stanton on April 19. Every game counts. That’s why MLB is the best league — it’s all about the grind.
New York Yankees (-181) vs. Toronto Blue Jays (+171) | O/U 9
7:05 p.m. ET
Following a 4-3 Thursday victory over Toronto on Thursday, the Yankees will host the Jays in the second of a four-game set on Friday. Toronto (12-6) has gotten off to a great this year, while the The Bronx Bombers (9-8) haven’t, at least relative to expectations.
Marco Estrada (1-1, 4.24) takes the hill for the Jays against Sonny Gray (1-1, 6.92). Gray (pictured above) has been a bit disappointing this year, but his stats are somewhat deceiving. His lone start against the Blue Jays was good, as he struck out eight and allowed just one run over four innings in his first start of the year; his curveball had tremendous bite in that outing. Gray was mediocre in his next start, giving up three runs over six innings against Baltimore, but he did record the win. Things took a turn for the worse in his most recent appearance, however, as the buzzsaw known as the Boston Red Sox torched Gray for six runs in just three innings. Also concerning: Gray’s strikeout numbers were down in both of those games, and he’s really struggled with his control early. Then again, the Red Sox have been beating up on everyone, and sometimes you just have to draw a line through a start.
As for the Jays’ starter, Estrada was good in his first two starts, including one against the Yankees, before struggling in his last outing. He earned a no-decision in his first start of the season, allowing three runs over seven innings but striking out only two. Low strikeout numbers are the norm for Estrada, however: He is more of a deception guy than a punchout artist.
The Yankees now get to see him once again in the early going, and the timing couldn’t be better for New York. Yankee fans can’t bare to see another strikeout, and believe me, the players know it. They can hear the boos in their sleep. Estrada is the perfect cure for a strikeout-prone lineup like New York’s.
Finally, the weather in the Bronx should be around 55 degrees at game time. That should really help Sonny Gray and that curveball as he tries to bounce back. On the other hand, this will be Toronto’s second time facing Gray as well.
With good weather and plenty of familiarity between the teams, look for runs. Lots of runs. Play the over.