NYY vs. TOR, Sept. 30: Odds, Prediction

September 30th, 2021

A version of this article originally appeared on the Action Network. For more betting insights, check out ActionNetwork.com.

Yankees Odds: +130

Blue Jays Odds: -150

Over/Under: 8.5

Time: 7:07 p.m. ET


Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute MLB odds here.

After a wild, back-and-forth game Wednesday, the Blue Jays pulled off a massive one-run victory to pull within one game of the second wild-card spot.

The AL race is still up for grabs, and every game this week means more than the last.

Luckily for Toronto fans, the Blue Jays have their Cy Young candidate on the mound for the rubber match. However, the Yankees’ Corey Kluber is no slouch himself.

So, who has the edge in this monumentally important game?

Yankees Clicking At The Right Time

The Yankees needed to sweep Boston. Because while the Red Sox finish their season with the Nationals and the Blue Jays finish their series with the Orioles, the Yankees have Tampa Bay.

However, maybe that’s a blessing in disguise. The Rays have locked up the first overall seed in the playoffs, so they’ll likely send out their B-team.

But do the Yankees have the firepower to hold on to the top spot?

The numbers suggest so. Over the past month, the Yankees pair the 10th-best offense via wRC+ (107) with the third-best bullpen via xFIP (3.87). Plus, some of their big guys are smashing the ball.

Take Giancarlo Stanton, who has a 1.156 OPS over the past two weeks. He’s 18-for-55 during that stretch with a whopping eight home runs, and two doubles for good measure. He’s knocked 20 RBI over the 14-game stretch.

Starting pitcher: Corey Kluber (RHP)

Kluber isn’t one of the elite pitchers in the game anymore. Most notably, his strikeout rate is down (9.56 K/9) while his walk rate is way up (3.82 K/9). However, he has managed to keep batters from mashing.

His average exit velocity is still low (87 mph, 87th percentile among qualified pitchers) and opponents are averaging fewer than one home run per nine innings. As such, he’s kept his ERA down at 3.82, although his xFIP is up at 4.29.

However, Kluber was placed on the IL between May 25 and August 30. So, what has he done since the surgery?

In short: Kluber’s been average but unlucky. He’s made five starts since his return and has posted a 4.30 xFIP, but his BABIP is at .377 and, as such, his ERA is over 5.70. He pitched a gem against Cleveland but struggled against the Mets and the Angels.

They haven’t quite let him off the leash yet, as he’s pitched just 22 innings across those five starts (4 1/3 IP per start). However, his previously low strikeout rate has jumped in those five starts, and he’s cashed over 4.5 strikeouts in four of them.

All Blue Jays Do Is Mash

The Blue Jays are the scariest team in baseball.

Toronto leads the league in wRC+ over the past month (128), but does it primarily with power. During September, Toronto leads MLB in slugging (.514), ISO (.243) and home runs (57). On the season, the Blue Jays pace the league in average exit velocity (90.3 mph).

You might think Vladimir Guerrero Jr. leads the team in every major statistic, considering he’s a triple-crown contender who’s batting .314 with seven home runs this month. However, the team leader in WAR is Marcus Semien.

Semien has been arguably the best free-agent pickup of any team in baseball this season. Not only is he lights-out at second base (89th percentile in Outs Above Average), he just set the record for single-season home runs record for a second baseman. He launched his 44th Wednesday night in a crucial win.

It’s pretty good when a Gold Glove-caliber infielder can also slug .543 and accumulate 7.2 bWAR.

The Blue Jays also have some really solid arms in their rotation. Including today’s starter:

Starting pitcher: Robbie Ray (LHP)

Of the last 11 Cy Young award winners, only one has been a southpaw -- David Price in 2018.

But Ray is now -600 on DraftKings to win the award, and it’s well deserved.

He’s put together an excellent second half, posting a 2.00 ERA since June 1. During that stretch, he’s striking out almost 12 batters per nine with a WHIP under 1.00. During that time, opposing hitters have posted just a .193 average and a .586 OPS.

Ray’s best pitch is his slider, wherein he’s allowed just a .214 xwOBA on the pitch this season. However, he’s never relied on his four-seam more than he has this season.

Given he’s thrown the four-seam almost 60% of the time with a 25% strikeout rate and a .308 wOBA, he’s posted a whopping -24 Run Value on the pitch this season.

Yankees-Blue Jays Pick

The Yankees opened at +140 but have since been bet down to +120 at some books, although the Blue Jays have pulled in more than 60% of the tickets and almost 90% of the handle as of this writing.

The under 8.5 is intriguing, especially since we’ve tracked sharp money coming in on the number.

If I had to pick a side, I’d roll with the Yankees. However, +130 is a bit low for my liking, and I’d have to see them back at +140 to justify taking them as an underdog.

Pick: Yankees ML (+140 or better)