MLB Betting Notes: Nationals-Yankees a World Series Preview?

MLB Betting Notes: Nationals-Yankees a World Series Preview? article feature image

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Bryce Harper and Max Scherzer.

The Highlights

  • From an odds perspective, the most likely World Series matchup right now is Yankees-Nationals.
  • The Bronx Bombers come into this game with some cold bats, but with a red-hot bullpen.
  • The Nationals will look to get to CC Sabathia early before getting into a battle of bullpens, but they will need to overcome their struggles vs. lefties.

As most of you already know, the Yankees are pretty good at baseball. They have a powerful lineup, outstanding bullpen and a bona fide ace at the top of their starting rotation. And when they get solid starts from CC Sabathia and Sonny Gray (as they have recently) — they become that much more dangerous. You could argue their only real weakness is their defense, which hasn’t been great this season.

If they can maintain consistent pitching depth and avoid catastrophic injuries, they have as good of a shot as anybody in the American League to reach the World Series. Their biggest hurdle might be winning their division. Either the Red Sox or Yankees will most likely have to play in a one-and-done scenario in a wild-card matchup against potentially Justin Verlander or James Paxton. Yikes.

Still, the most likely World Series matchup as of right now features the Yankees and their opponent on Tuesday, the Washington Nationals.

The Nationals have started to turn it on after a slow start, and the sky’s the limit once they get fully healthy. Dream big, DC. Now that you have one championship, why not go for two in the same year?

Washington Nationals (+146) at New York Yankees (-161) | O/U: 9

Tanner Roark (3-6, 3.56 ERA) vs. CC Sabathia (3-1, 3.59 ERA)
7:05 p.m. ET

Pitching Matchup

Roark might struggle to get outs against the Yankees lineup, as he doesn’t really have strikeout stuff. His 7.47 K/9 rate ranks 28th worst among all qualified starters. Also, his .245 BABIP (Batting Average on Balls in Play) isn’t really sustainable over the long run.

That said, the Yankees’ bats come in ice cold, especially with runners in scoring position. They are 0-for-16 with RISP over their last four games and just 13-for-76 (.171) in June. However, they still found a way to win three of their last four — despite scoring a total of only 11 runs. How? Their bullpen.

The Yankees bullpen is simply rolling right now. In addition to pitching flawlessly last week, their relievers have a league-leading 0.35 ERA in the month of June. Silliness.

If Sabathia can just find a way keep the game tied into the seventh inning against a team ranked in the bottom half of MLB in both average and OPS against lefties, the Nats could be in trouble.  — Stuckey

Fantasy Focus

Gary Sanchez does not have great recent batted-ball data. Over the past two weeks, his batted ball distance is 60 feet shorter than his 12-month average. His average exit velocity of just 84 mph sits six mph lower than normal, and his hard-hit percentage is 24% lower. Since 2015, the 123 hitters that have fit all of those criteria have continued to perform poorly. Per FantasyLabs, they’ve averaged -2.34 points fewer than their salary based expectation — with just a 19.5% consistency. That’s almost exactly half as consistent as an average hitter. — Mark Gallant

Getting Trendy

The Nationals’ impressive 28-14 record against right-handed starters this season puts them in the top-5 most profitable teams against righties. However, they’re just 7-13 for -7.3 units against left-handed starting pitchers this season, making them the second-least profitable team against southpaws. (Blue Jays are 8-17 for -10.1 units.) The lefty Sabathia has to like the sound of that. — Evan Abrams

Sabathia has excelled in interleague play, as his teams have posted a 31-14 record in his starts. When pitching at home, that record improves to 18-6 (75%). On the other hand, the Nationals are just 7-10 when Roark has pitched against the American League. — John Ewing

The Yankees, who lead the league with 5.5 runs per game, were shut out 2-0 by the Mets on Sunday night. Since 2008, teams that average more than five runs per game are just 148-141 (51.2%) in the game following a shutout. Bettors would have lost 17.8 units backing those elite offenses in this spot, but all of that damage has been done by road teams.

  • At home in this spot: 79-43 (+11.5 units)
  • On road in this spot: 69-98 (-29.3 units) — Evan Abrams