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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, July 20, 2015 at 7:00 PM

The New York Yankees have put some distance in the standings between themselves and the rest of the American League East heading into a crucial three-game series with the Baltimore Orioles that begins Tuesday Night. They don’t have much margin for error though because three teams could be nipping at their heels by the weekend.

 

AL EAST STANDINGS (heading into new series)

NY Yankees: first place

Baltimore: 4 games behind

Tampa Bay: 4.5 games behind prior to series in Philadelphia

Toronto: 4.5 games behind as they begin series on Oakland Tuesday

Any of the teams behind the Yankees could get hot. Obviously….if Baltimore can do some damage these next few days…we could have an even tighter grouping very soon.

The good news for Yankees fans is that they have the most going for them on the resume…

New York: 4 game lead, 3 extra home games coming, +27 run differential

Baltimore: 1 extra home game coming, +44 run differential

Toronto: even home/road split, +89 run differential

Tampa Bay: eight extra ROAD games coming, -16 run differential

The Rays look like a pretender given that information. Both Baltimore and Toronto have real chances to surge forward based on what their run differentials are suggesting about their talent levels. But, it’s hard to catch a division leader from behind if that leader doesn’t help out by LOSING!

Let’s see what JIM HURLEY’S key indicator stats have to say about this Orioles/Yankees series…

 

OFFENSE

Baltimore: 4.42 runs per game, .312 on-base, .423 slugging

NY Yankees: 4.59 runs per game, .322 on-base, .424 slugging

Slight edge to the Yankees…though you could make the case that favorable home field hitting conditions are polluting this season’s numbers. Both teams can score. Both teams likely will score in this series given the pitchers they’ll be facing.

 

TUESDAY’S PITCHERS

Wei-Yin Chen: 2.78 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 7.4 K-Rate, 6.5 IP-per-Start

Nathan Eovaldi: 4.50 ERA, 1.52 WHIP, 6.5 K-Rate, 5.4 IP-per-Start

It’s a true crime that Chen has a 4-5 record while Eovaldi is 9-2. Look at those stats! Chen has Cy Young contending numbers for a team that just won’t give him consistent run support. Eovaldi is fortunate not to have a much worse ERA, but continues to enjoy run and bullpen support. Edge to Baltimore…and perhaps a big edge if run support regression is on the way.

 

WEDNESDAY’S PITCHERS

Kevin Gausman: 5.00 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 8.4 K-Rate, 5.0 IP-per-Start

Ivan Nova: 3.52 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 4.6 K-Rate, 5.9 IP-per-Start

This will be the prime time game on ESPN. It’s been two weeks since Gausman started in the Majors…a game where he got rocked in Minnesota. He did start a couple of times at Triple A to stay in rhythm…though he’s yet to really establish a rhythm where it matters. Nova has only made four starts this season since returning from injury. A great opener vs. horrible Philadelphia was followed by less impressive work. Both pitchers could be in trouble vs. these offenses. Think about the Over if weather is helping hitters.

 

THURSDAY PITCHERS

Ubaldo Jiminez: 3.29 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 8.9 K-Rate, 5.8 IP-per-Start

Masahiro Tanaka: 3.65 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 9.0 K-Rate, 6.2 IP-per-Start

An early start Thursday afternoon because both teams have a plane to catch (Baltimore flies to Tampa Bay, while the Yanks head off to Minnesota). Jiminez was hit hard in his first outing after the ASB in Detroit. That added about half-a-run to his ERA. Tanaka is about 80% to throw a quality start in recent weeks. But, he gets hit hard when things aren’t going well. That’s why his ERA is so high compared to his quality ratio. If both teams go up hacking in the get-away spot, we could have a high-strikeout pitchers’ duel. If one team won the first TWO games, look for the 0-2 game to battle extra-hard to avoid a sweep in this high profile divisional series.

JIM HURLEY is likely to have at least one big play in these marquee matchups. You can purchase the final word each day right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call us in the office during normal business hours at 1-888-777-4155. Be sure to ask about our “Dollars of August” football package when you call.

More baseball the next few days…before the weekend brings college football preview notes…

Wednesday: MLB Big Game Preview…Minnesota at LA Angels

Thursday: MLB Series Preview…Washington at Pittsburgh

Friday: MLB Series Preview…Houston at Kansas City

Saturday: College Football Preview…SEC “East”

Sunday: College Football Preview…SEC “West”

Monday: MLB Series Preview…Detroit at Tampa Bay

Tuesday: MLB Series Preview…LA Angels at Houston

It’s great to have so many divisional and Wildcard races to study and handicap! Be sure you’re with us every day in the NOTEBOOK for helpful hints. And, hook up with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK for BIG, JUICY WINNERS!

 

Be sure to follow:

Jim Hurley on twitter @vsm_hurley

Vegas-Sports-Masters on twitter @vsmasters

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