Twins-Yankees Betting Picks, Odds & Predictions: Are More Runs in Store for Game 2?

Twins-Yankees Betting Picks, Odds & Predictions: Are More Runs in Store for Game 2? article feature image

Jerome Miron, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Masahiro Tanaka

  • The Yankees took a 1-0 series lead in the ALDS on Friday night. Should you be betting on them to beat the Twins again in Game 2?
  • Sean Zerillo uses his betting model to break down the odds for Twins-Yankees Game 2 and make his pick.

Twins-Yankees Betting Predictions, Picks & Odds: Game 2 ALDS

Probable starters: Randy Dobnak (2-1, 1.59 ERA) vs. Masahiro Tanaka (11-9, 4.45 ERA)

  • Twins odds: +160
  • Yankees odds: -190
  • Over/Under:  9.5
  • First pitch:  5:07 p.m. ET on FS1

Odds as of Saturday afternoon. Check out PointsBet, where Action Network users get an exclusive 200% deposit match (deposit $50, bet with $150).

On Friday, the Minnesota Twins jumped out to an early 2-0 lead through two innings against the Yankees but were unable to hold down New York’s offense for more than a few outs at a time.

The Yankees eventually scored 10 runs, surpassing the game total on their own, while forcing six Twins pitchers to throw more than 23 pitches per inning – drawing eight walks in the process.

For an opposing pitcher, the Yankees offense is a ticking time bomb, and it seems impossible for a non-elite pitcher to navigate their way through this batting order multiple times.

The Twins will turn to Randy Dobnak, making his sixth career start at the MLB level,  to solve the problem that is this Yankees offense on Saturday,

Can he figure them out, or will the Yankees continue to bash their way towards the ALCS?

The Starters 

Twins manager Rocco Baldelli cited Dobnak’s 53% ground-ball rate when asked why he opted for the rookie over their second-best regular-season starter, Jake Odorizzi, in Game 2.

A fly-ball pitcher, Odorizzi would also fare better at Target Field than in Yankee Stadium.

So Minnesota will turn to Dobnak and his sparkling ERA instead; though how much do we know about this 24-year-old after tossing fewer than 30 innings at the MLB level?

As you could probably guess, he throws a two-seam fastball (36%) to help generate such a high ground-ball rate; and also uses a four-seamer (23%),  slider (28%), and changeup (13%) – with league average fastball velocity (93 mph).

More importantly, Dobnak’s fastball has an extremely low spin rate (4th percentile), which helps to generate a higher groundball rate.

Higher spin fastballs, like the one that Justin Verlander throws (98th percentile), lead to more swings and misses and fewer groundballs.

Dobnak’s two-seamer has a ton of late tail and is extremely difficult for hitters to square up unless he completely misses his spot:

And he also has an excellent swing-and-miss offering with his slider (which some sites classify as a curveball):

The Yankees have seen Masahiro Tanaka lose both fastball velocity and his strikeout ability over the past two seasons, with his strikeout rate declining by five percent over 2018:

Tanaka still has a solid ground-ball rate (47.5%) and owns good command – as his walk rate has remained between 5.3% and 5.5% over the past three seasons, but he can no longer generate as many swinging strikes while living at a lower velocity.

His swinging-strike rate has declined from 14% in 2018 to 10.7% this season, as batters are making contact on his pitches outside of the zone at a rate 10% higher than last season.

The righty still owns an extremely useful slider (4th amongst starters in total value):

Masahiro Tanaka, Filthy 86mph Slider…and….


— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) June 18, 2019

But his second-best offering, the splitter, returned a negative pitch value for the first time in his career – leaving him with just one actual out pitch at present.


The Bullpens

On the season, the Twins bullpen ranks 1st in FIP, 6th in xFIP, and 3rd in K-BB%. By the same metrics, the Yankees rank 9th, 4th, and 6th.

The teams used 11 relief pitchers combined in Game 1, including starters J.A. Happ (23 pitches) for the Yankees and Kyle Gibson (34 pitches) for the Twins; neither of whom I would expect to see again on Saturday.

Zack Littell (eight pitches) and Adam Ottavino (six pitches) were each removed before retiring a batter for their respective teams.

In addition to Ottavino and Tommy Kahnle, the Yankees also used Zack Britton and Aroldis Chapman – so they unloaded their best pitching staff on Friday.

The Twins kept both Sergio Romo and Taylor Rogers in reserve, and with the day off on Sunday, I would expect them to each come into a close game on Saturday.

Projected Lineups

Data per FantasyLabs

Weather Report

Data per Sports Insights

Trends to Know

This game fits a couple of positive trends for contrarian underdog and under bettors, including one of the most reliable Bet Labs Pro systems for under betting:

 As of writing, more than 80% of tickets are on the over, but the total has stayed firm at 9.5 and the vig has actually moved towards the under; indicating sharp liability in that direction.

If you’re going to play the Twins, consider taking the game spread, as 95% of bettors are currently backing the Yankees to win by two runs or more (at plus-money) rather than laying their heftier moneyline price.

So long as the public continues to pound the Yankees spread, Minnesota fits the following system for Saturday:

With the way that these two teams hit home runs, I feel like the chance of them playing a one-run game is probably lower than it would be in the other ALDS series between the Astros and Rays – so you can choose whether the information is actionable.

But it does seem that oddsmakers are setting themselves up to profit if the Yankees win this game on the moneyline, but by one run for Minnesota to cover the spread.

Model Projected Odds

Favorite Bet

I projected the Yankees as a -158 favorite in this game, and I set the total at 10.09 runs. Therefore, I don’t see value on either moneyline, but I do see some value on the over 9.5 at around even money. 

I placed a half-unit bet on the over, despite the presence of the Bet Labs under system, as this game intuitively sets up for another high scoring affair. But I wouldn’t lay more than -105 in vig to play the over.

The Twins are going to need a significant outing from Dobnak to keep this game close, as the Yankees have not had this full lineup together for virtually the entire season. It is a scary group.

They spit at a lot of pitches, grind opponents down, and wait patiently for fastballs or mistakes in hitters counts.

I have never seen every player on a team take a base on balls with so much pride.

But Tanaka has also been less effective than in prior years, and I think the Bomba Squad can put enough balls in play to take him deep a couple of times on Saturday too.

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