The New York Yankees (33-30) face the Philadelphia Phillies (30-31) for the first of two games on Saturday, following a rare Friday off-day for both teams. Saturday marks their first of four head-to-head matchups this season, after they split last year’s series 2-2. The Yankees were one inning away from a sweep in Minnesota this week, which would’ve brought an encouraging end to a discouraging four-game slide. Instead, the Yankees fell apart in the ninths against the Twins, and now they’ll see a Phillies team that has won four of its past five (all at home).
Free Picks: New York Yankees vs Philadelphia Phillies
Which Vince Velasquez will show up in Philly on Saturday?
We’ve seen two versions of Phillies starter Vince Velasquez in recent weeks: one that’s great, and one that’s far from that.
Velasquez has allowed nine earned runs over his past two starts (11.57 ERA) after allowing just three earned runs in his previous four starts (1.17 ERA). Whichever of those versions shows up Saturday will likely determine the winner between the Phillies and the visiting Yankees, the latter of which are -135 money line favorites (10Bet) among the day’s MLB picks. Philadelphia serves as the +110 money line underdog (10Bet).
We believe the lesser of the two Velasquez versions is more likely to appear, and here’s why: His underlying data is not at all favorable. Velasquez ranks in the 15th percentile or lower in walk rate, hard-hit rate (i.e. balls in play hit at 95 mph exit velocity or higher) and average exit velocity. He also struggles to induce chase swings (21st percentile in chase rate), while ranking in the 22nd percentile in expected ERA and the 26th percentile in expected slugging percentage.
Velasquez’s recent struggles might be a bit extreme, but they’re likely more indicative of where he’s at as a pitcher than the four-start span that included the 1.17 ERA. And while the Yankees’ offense has had plenty of struggles this season, we’re finally starting to see some teeth in what is supposed to be one of baseball’s most feared lineups.
Among the leaders in that lineup is Giancarlo Stanton, whose effortless, destructive home run swing was on display three times in the final two games of New York’s most recent series in Minnesota. Stanton had a .400/.400/.1.067 slash line in those three games, with more hits than in his previous 14 games! If Stanton starts cooking, look out, world.
To be fair, the Phillies might not have a problem cooking against Yankees starter Jameson Taillon (1-4, 5.09 ERA), who hasn’t been of much value to the Yankees this year. In his last five starts, he has allowed three or more runs on four occasions, and he’s only once pitched past the fifth inning. But in the past 30 days, the Phillies are 21st in the majors in team OPS (.701), so it’s not like they’ve been red hot.
With that, we’ll make this BetPicks prediction a two-parter: roll with the favored Yankees on the money line, and consider the over on the 9.5-run total (-105 at 10Bet). The over has hit in each of New York’s past five games. The Yankees could take all the drama out of this one with a couple of Stantonian swings.
- New York is 4-6 on the money line in its past 10
- The OVER has cashed in seven of the Yankees’ past nine games
- Philadelphia is 5-5 on the money line in its past 10
- The OVER has cashed in six of the Phillies’ past 10 games
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Jordan Horrobin is a freelance sports journalist based in Toronto, Ontario, who enjoys sports-related research and telling engaging stories. His work can also be found at Sportsnet, Forbes and elsewhere. Though he abandoned most of his team-specific fandoms in the interest of unbiased analysis, Jordan roots hard for his fantasy football/hockey teams (and he's a complete homer for all things Ohio University).
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