After sharing a four-game series with the Boston Red Sox over the weekend, the New York Yankees now return home for a three-game series with the Cincinnati Reds, last before closing out their first half. history with another series with the Red Sox.
Tuesday night’s tilt certainly sets up well for the Yankees with Gerrit Cole (8-2, 3.26 ERA) set to face rookie Graham Ashcraft (4-2, 4.35 ERA). Given the pitching game, it’s no surprise the bookmakers have installed the Yankees as -330 favorites going into the series opener. If the Bombers closed at -330, that would be the second-highest money line they’ve had all season (New York left at -345 against Oakland on June 28, per Action Labs).
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Reds vs. Yankees Odds
Odds provided by BetMGM
Spread: CIN +2.5 (-125) vs. NYY -2.5 (+105)
Moneyline: CIN (+230) against NYY (-300)
Total: More than 8.5 (-110) | Less than 8.5 (-110)
Prediction Reds vs Yankees
At first glance, everything about this game points to a Yankees victory. Despite struggling in his last start, Cole has been as advertised for the Pinstripes this season with a 3.26 ERA, 2.95 xFIP and 11.23 K/9. And while Cole ranks in the 75th percentile in xwOBA and the 90th percentile in strikeout rate, his batted ball data has a few minor red flags.
Cole’s 9.1% barrel rate and 36.5% hit rate are both below average compared to the rest of the league. Of course, you’ll trade the odd barrel for Cole’s ability to master lineouts, but he’s been vulnerable to the long ball this season.
On paper, a pitching game between Cole and Ashcraft looks like a mismatch, but there’s reason to believe the rookie can at least keep up with the Yankees ace. While Ashcraft’s 13.4% strikeout rate pales in comparison to Cole’s, he has proven to be an effective contact pitcher with a 53.4% rushed ball rate and a average exit speed of 85.9 MPH, which ranks in the top six percent of top pitchers this season.
In addition to his ability to induce weak contact, Ashcraft rarely gets into trouble with walks. So far, the UAB product has walked just 4.1% of the batters it has faced, which puts it in the 96th percentile in the league.
The Yankees roster will punish you for making mistakes, but Ashcraft comes across as the type of pitcher who should limit damage and there’s a chance he’ll keep that powerful offense at a reasonable total.
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Betting against the Yankees hasn’t been a profitable strategy this season, but once again we’re seeing a bloated funding line for a game that shouldn’t be as straightforward as odds takers suggest (-330 odds equals to an implied win of 76.8% probability). Ashcraft has proven to be a tricky opponent for lineups this season and his arsenal is enough to make him a live underdog even against baseball’s best offense and Gerrit Cole.
Sean Zerillo’s Action Network MLB model projects the Reds as a +221 underdog for Tuesday night’s meeting with the Yankees, so there’s plenty of value on Cincinnati if you’ve got the guts for it.
Reds pick vs. Yankees
Reds +230 (BetMGM)