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Yankees vs. Indians MLB Odds & Picks: Will New York End Its Early-Inning Struggles? (Friday, April 23)

Yankees vs. Indians MLB Odds & Picks: Will New York End Its Early-Inning Struggles? (Friday, April 23) article feature image

Emilee Chinn/Getty Images. Pictured: Franmil Reyes.

  • The Yankees and Indians continue a four-game series on Friday night.
  • Both teams have a southpaw on the mound, with Jordan Montgomery for New York and Logan Allen for Cleveland.
  • Tanner McGrath breaks down where he sees betting value in Cleveland.

Yankees vs. Indians Odds

Yankees Odds -140
Indians Odds +120
Over/Under 8.5
Time Friday, 7:10 p.m. ET
Odds as of Thursday and via PointsBet

This is an intriguing series.

Two big-brand baseball teams that are both underachieving in early 2021. But while the Indians are mostly uninteresting, the Yankees are playing truly terribly.

Even more intriguing, we get a lefty vs. lefty matchup on the mound tonight, as Jordan Montgomery and Logan Allen will toss today.

The Yankees stole the first game of this series, but I think there’s value with Cleveland on Friday night.

New York Yankees

It’s honestly incredible how pathetic the Yankees have been.

Let’s start here — the Yankees…

  • Have the second worst batting average in MLB.
  • Have scored the third fewest runs.
  • Have walked the third fewest times.
  • Own the second worst wOBA.
  • Own the third worst wRC+.
  • Boast the worst OPS.

That’s a wildly impressive résumé … if you’re applying for the role of “Worst Offense in Baseball.”

A big problem has been making good contact. The Yankees combine the sixth-highest whiff rate with the fifth-lowest zone contact rate. Their plate discipline hasn’t been awful and they don’t chase a lot, but when they do chase, they’re making contact on just 50.6% of their swings — good for fourth-lowest in baseball.

Overall, the Yankees rank 25th with just a 73.1% contact rate.

At 6-11, the offensive struggles have taken a toll on the fans, coaches and players. Sometimes, it looks like they’re not even trying anymore:

what is this effort

— Talkin' Yanks (@TalkinYanks) April 22, 2021


However, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton have been elite in exit velocity and hard-hit percentage, and there have been injury issues with guys like Luke Voit, Gary Sanchez, Gio Urshula and Luis Severino. Moreover, the bullpen has been excellent, as it paces the league in bullpen ERA (2.28) and WHIP (1.00).

So, there’s hope for the dead-last Yankees. It just doesn’t feel like it right now.

Today’s Starter: Jordan Montgomery (LHP)

After an excellent 2020, Montgomery had an excellent 2021 season debut. He pitched six shutout innings and added seven strikeouts with no walks back on April 5, picking up the win against Baltimore.

The wheels have since fallen off, as Montgomery allowed eight runs on seven hits and four walks over his next 11 innings, all of which were against the Rays.

However, he’s hoping to bounce back against a team he’s faced just once in his career, back in 2017.

Montgomery is a soft-contact guy. His main pitches last year were the sinker, changeup, curveball and four-seam. And that strategy worked, as he allowed a super low average exit velocity (84.6 mph), hard-hit percentage (29.9%) and also posted a very low walk rate (4.7%).

This year, Montgomery has added a cutter to his mix. He’s allowing a .369 wOBA on his cutters, but he’s been throwing it well with a xwOBA on the pitch of just .180.

Also good: His changeup is averaging a whiff rate around 40% and he’s allowing just a .122 wOBA on his curveball.

Cleveland Indians

I don’t really know what to say about the Indians.

They’re below average in most everything and aren’t making a lot of noise. They’re just 8-8 on the season and just dropped two of three to Cincinnati in their last series. It feels like the team’s energy left when Lindor did.

However, the season is still young and there’s lots of baseball to be played.

One good thing about the Indians tonight is they hit much-better against southpaws. They’ve posted just a .650 OPS and a 80 wRC+ against RHPs but a .716 OPS and a 100 wRC+ against LHPs.

Moreover, Franmil Reyes boasts an OPS+ of 136 and has really been seeing the ball well. He currently is in the top five percent of qualified hitters in average exit velocity, hard-hit percentage and barrel percentage.

Jordan Luplow has been a surprise in the early going. Although he’s only had 37 plate appearances, he’s hit five home runs, got an OPS of 1.205 and paces the team in wOBA. In just the past two games, Luplow has gone 2-for-5 with two home runs, three RBIs and four walks to just two strikeouts.

Starting Pitcher: Logan Allen (LHP)

Allen has had a tough, up-and-down start to the 2021 season. His expected stats are fairly average, as he’s posted a 3.62 xERA and a 4.47 xFIP in the early going.

However, he does a few things very well:

  • He ranks in the 86th percentile in average exit velocity, at 86.7 mph.
  • He ranks in the 77th percentile in hard-hit percentage, at 31.4%.
  • He ranks in the 84th percentile in barrel percentage, at 2.9%.

Allen also does a few things poorly, mostly with missing bats. He ranks in just the 15th percentile in whiff rate and the 24th percentile in strikeout rate (19.2%). Both are weird, considering he’s a heavy four-seam fastball pitcher.

However, he doesn’t throw the fastball very hard, and his fastball velocity is down about 1.5 mph this season (92.4 mph in 2021 vs. 94.0 mph in 2020).

Allen has never faced the Yankees in his career. Given the Yankees’ offensive woes, this is probably good timing.

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Yankees-Indians Pick

I’m going to ride with the home team in this spot.

I’m doing so mostly because Cleveland has the advantage against left-handed pitchers. Against lefties at home this season, Cleveland ranks fifth in both OPS and wRC+. Meanwhile, against lefties on the road this season, the Yankees have posted a measly .598 OPS.

Moreover, Allen generally pitches better at home. He’s allowed just three earned runs on seven hits in 10 innings at Progressive field.

The Yankees have the clear advantage in the bullpen, and the Indians don’t have any reliable lefty relievers. Therefore, I’m going to play the Indians first five innings rather than the full game.

The Indians have opened as small underdogs, and playing home underdogs is  my favorite thing to do. At the time of this writing, PointsBet had the Indians F5 ML at +125. That line oozes value and I like Indians F5 down to even money.

Pick: Indians F5 +125 (play to +100)

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