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MLB Odds, Picks, Predictions for Yankees vs. Orioles: Don’t Rule Out the Underdogs Against Gerrit Cole (Wednesday, May 18)

MLB Odds, Picks, Predictions for Yankees vs. Orioles: Don’t Rule Out the Underdogs Against Gerrit Cole (Wednesday, May 18) article feature image
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Ron Vesely/Getty Images. Pictured: Gerrit Cole.

  • The Yankees are an overwhelming favorite tonight against the skidding Orioles.
  • Baltimore faces a tough test against Yankees ace Gerrit Cole, while Jordan Lyles will start for the O's.
  • Michael Arinze breaks down the matchup and makes his betting pick below.

Yankees vs. Orioles Odds

Yankees Odds -275
Orioles Odds +220
Over/Under 7.5 (-110 / -110)
Time 7:05 p.m. ET
TV MLB.TV
Odds via PointsBet. Get up-to-the-minute MLB odds here.

On Tuesday night, the Baltimore Orioles scored four runs for the first time in seven games. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to snap their losing streak, which now stands at five games.

Perhaps the mini-breakout is a sign that the offense is starting to get going again. If the Orioles can get anything out of Jordan Lyles’s start on Wednesday,  they might just get back in the win column. However, it won’t get any easier with Yankees ace Gerrit Cole on the mound

Let’s break down the matchup and whether the price is right on the Orioles.

Cole Faces Struggling Baltimore Offense

New York’s won three straight games to improve to 27-9, which is the best record in baseball. As things stand, the Yankees are on pace to win 122 games. However, as good as the Yankees have been, winning that many games is unlikely. Even the best baseball teams are likely to lose at least 60 times in a season.

Cole comes into this game at 3-0 with a 2.95 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP. According to FanGraphs, his advanced numbers only point toward a slight regression, evidenced by a 3.18 xERA and a 3.41 FIP. While his overall numbers are impressive, he has been somewhat susceptible to the home run given his 16.1% HR/FB rate. And for a pitcher who has generated a career-high 66.6% of swings inside the strike zone, there’s always a chance one of his pitches could leave the yard.

If I’m honest, the only other blemish I’m seeing from Cole is his propensity to fall behind hitters early in the count. His first-pitch strike rate of 57.2% is quite a drop-off from his career mark of 63.2%.

Orioles hitters have generally been behind in the count this season as they’re tied for the third-highest first-pitch strike rate against them at 62.3%. While these might appear to be minor details, the Orioles will need every break they can get to overcome a pitcher of Cole’s quality.

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Lyles Might Match Up Well vs. Yankees

For the Orioles to have a chance, they’ll need a solid performance from Lyles. The right-hander is 2-3 with a 4.38 ERA and a 1.51 WHIP through seven starts. His advanced metrics aren’t too far from his traditional numbers, given his 4.87 xERA and a 4.42 FIP.

While consistency has been a problem for Lyles throughout his career, he’s certainly capable of throwing a good outing now and then. This season, he’s posting a career-best first-pitch strike rate of 64.2%, although what he does for the rest of the at-bat has been a problem.

Historically, Lyles isn’t known to have a devastating put-away pitch. Per Baseball Savant, his highest put-away rate in 2021 was just 19.9% with his curveball. This season, he’s having more success with his sinker (33.3%) in those situations.

Interestingly, in his 12-year career, Lyles has never had a put-away rate higher than 18.6% with his sinker. Thus, if he has a good feel for the pitch, he’ll have a better chance to keep the ball on the ground against a Yankees team that ranks second with 54 home runs. However, it’s worth noting that the Yankees are 4.8 runs below average when facing a sinker.

Lyles has faced the Yankees three times in his career. He’s 1-1 against them, but his teams have won two of the three meetings. In two of the starts, he allowed just two runs in 11 1/3 innings of work. Thus, there’s a history of Lyles having some success against New York. If his sinker’s working, he’s certainly a live dog to pull off the upset.

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Yankees-Orioles Pick

The Yankees are an overwhelming favorite in this game, with odds as high as -278 at FoxBet. They opened at -225, and although teams within this price range are 35-13 this season, bettors are only up 1.07 units in this spot. Thus, there’s little value in playing a favorite at such a high price.

Instead, I’d prefer to look to the desperate underdog looking to snap its five-game losing streak. The Orioles’ bats finally showed some life yesterday with four runs in a losing cause. Before that, they scored no more than two runs in any of their previous four games.

Per our Action Labs database, home teams in this spot with a losing streak of five or more games against a team with a winning streak of three or more games are 83-68 in this spot for 18.53 units.

The Orioles are desperate for a win here, and we’ve already seen Lyles stymie the Yankees on two occasions. As a result, I can only look to the home team in this spot, so I’ll put a half-unit on the Orioles with +225 odds over at FoxBet.

Pick: Orioles ML +225 or better

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