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Yankees vs. Indians Odds & Picks: Back New York On Thursday

Yankees vs. Indians Odds & Picks: Back New York On Thursday article feature image

Rich Schultz/Getty Images. Pictured: Giancarlo Stanton

  • To say the Yankees' offense has been bad this season would be an understatement.
  • In pitch-to-contact specialist Aaron Civale, though, they just may get on track.
  • MLB betting analyst Kenny Ducey previews the matchup and makes his pick below.

Yankees vs. Indians Odds

Yankees Odds -107
Indians Odds -109
Over/Under 8
Time 6:10 p.m. ET
Odds as of Thursday afternoon and via DraftKings.

After snapping their five-game losing streak on Tuesday, the Yankees and their bats came crashing back down to Earth in a 4-1 defeat at the hands of Ian Anderson and the Braves on Wednesday night.

New York now sits in last place in the AL East at 6-11, ranking in the bottom third of the league in several statistical categories, and the Indians and their collection of arms will have their sights set on a series win which could move them into first place in the division.

Is there any value in fading the Yankees yet again, or is it about time to back them as an underdog? Let’s look into the matchup.

New York Yankees

This is uncharted territory for the Yankees, who have been perennial favorites to win for the better part of four years. Despite a 6-11 start, the Yankees have been priced as the underdog just twice, and they’ve lost both of those games. Thursday could be when the other shoe drops.

Though the Yankees sit fourth in the league with a 10.9% walk rate, and actually haven’t been terrible in the strikeout department, sitting 15th in the bigs, there’s no getting around the fact that this has been one of the worst offenses in baseball. So, what’s the issue? Well, it’s been contact. This has never been a team that makes a lot of it, ranking 14th in the league last season with a 75.8% contact rate, but this season it’s been particularly bad — 73.1%, which ranks 25th in the league.

This team has won a lot of games in years past because it’s hit a lot of home runs, which many fans and writers would complain about. Many said you couldn’t rely on home runs that heavily, and after years of meme-ing them, they may actually have been right. We are seeing what this offense looks like without its home run hitters hitting the ball, and it’s downright ugly and hard to watch. The Yankees have hit just 17 all season, which is one of the five worst marks in baseball.

The Yankees have been getting guys on base thanks to their walks, but without anyone in the order hitting for contact, these runners are useless. The Three True Outcome Kings have been really good when it comes to two of the outcomes, but they’re not getting nearly enough of the most important outcome. They’re just going to have to wait it out and see if more of their home run hitters will begin to produce. Otherwise, they’re going to continue to slump.

Cleveland Indians

The Indians, unlike the Yankees, have been making plenty of contact at 75.6%, which ranks 13th. Also unlike the Yankees, they’ve been making really good contact, sitting fourth with a 42.1% hard-hit rate and 6.7 barrels per plate appearance, according to Statcast. With all of that said they have had a clear favorite matchup, and it isn’t right-handers.

The Indians’ wRC+ is 20 points lower against righties than it is against lefties in the early going, and while it has time to level itself out, it makes sense that it would be this way. José Ramírez has hit for more power from the right side of the dish, Franmil Reyes has destroyed lefties and has hit 46 points worse against righties, and their left-handed bats have simply been mediocre outside of Eddie Rosario.

So, the matchup against Domingo Germán won’t be the most appealing in the world, but Cleveland will like its chances with Aaron Civale on the hill. What the righty has lacked in fastball velocity this year he’s made up for with spin and effective secondary pitches like hit cutter, change, slider and curve.

As a result of being a junkballer, he’s pitched to contact for his whole career, which has been working out for him. Civale ranks in the top 25% of the league in average exit velocity allowed, and in the 74th percentile in chase rate. He’s been a master at inducing soft contact to eat up inning for Cleveland, and has won each of his first three starts.

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Yankees-Indians Pick

Civale, a pitch-to-contact righty, could be just what the doctor ordered for the Yankees. On the whole, this team has been able to smack the ball when they’ve put it in play, and the issue, as we’ve touched on, is their ability to actually get a bat on the ball. New York ranks 10th in hard-hit rate, and its best hitters have all made great contact. Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Giancarlo Stanton and Gio Urshela have hard-hit rates above 42%, with DJ LeMahieu not too far behind.

A guy who gives up a lot of contact could be just what the Yankees need after seeing a swing-and-miss master in Anderson last time out. When they’ve made contact, good things have happened, and they should be doing a lot of that on Thursday. There’s a ton of value in the Yankees’ offense as underdogs here, and with Germán holding a splits advantage against the Indians and generally being average-to-above average as a starter, I’m willing to fire up a bet on New York.

Pick: Yankees ML (-107)

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