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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, July 17, 2017 at 12:00 PM

Even though it seems that most AL teams are still in the playoff discussion because so many are floating near the .500 mark, there’s actually only ONE league series beginning Monday that matches realistic contenders who BOTH really NEED to win.

That’s the NY Yankees at Minnesota, a three-game set featuring teams very much in the thick of the Wildcard race. Both still have a chance to chase down their respective division leaders for first place. Yet, the margin of error is so tight this season that both teams could ultimately miss the playoffs.

Minnesota will enjoy home field advantage (though they’ve had better success on the road this season), and perhaps other intangible edges since the Yankees had to catch a plane late Sunday night after an emotionally draining four-game series against hated Boston. Minnesota was happy to take one of three in Houston…a series where they were significantly outmatched talent-wise (and got them on a plane back home much earlier in the day).

Let’s crunch some numbers! Here are JIM HURLEY’S key indicator stats for Twins/Yankees.

 

TEAM QUALITY

NY Yankees: +100 runs, while playing 43 home games and 47 road games

Minnesota: -65 runs, while playing 48 home games and 43 road games

As we talked about last Friday in our Yankees/Red Sox preview…that high run differential for the Yanks was very much front-loaded this season. They played their best ball of the year while climbing to 15 games over .500. It’s mostly been bad news since then…though splitting four games in Boston is a plus given the opponent and what was at stake. Minnesota has largely been winning with smoke and mirrors this season…which is why most analytics approaches don’t see them as real contenders. They’re way below equilibrium in run scoring WHILE playing more home games than road games. Pure math is going to favor the Yankees here, but not by as much as plus 100 runs would suggest considering recent form.

 

TEAM OFFENSE

NY Yankees: 5.5 runs-per-game, .341 on-base, .446 slugging

Minnesota: 4.6 runs-per-game, .329 on-base, .410 slugging

Both offenses have been helped by their home parks. Minnesota’s stadium has actually been one of the best hitters’ parks in baseball this season. The Yankees play in one of the best home run parks, which helps inflate their slugging. If this series were being played at a truly neutral site, maybe we’re looking at 5.1 to 4.3 for the Yanks hitters. In a hitters’ park, a chance for some Overs if we run into mediocre pitching.

Let’s look at the probable starting pitchers…

 

MONDAY

Mitchell: 5.06 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 5.6 K’s per 9 innings

Mejia: 4.43 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, 7.5 K’s per 9 innings

Definitely mediocre (or worse) pitching in the first two games. Mitchell gets a spot start for the Yankees the day after their doubleheader. Finding quality arms is going to be an issue down the stretch with the loss of Michael Pineda. Mitchell isn’t likely to be the solution, and would be better served starting in a different park! Mejia has a horrible WHIP and a mediocre K-rate by 2017 standards. Definitely Over potential on paper. But, both teams could be dealing with jet lag after their trips. At least the All-Star Break should cut down on “sustained” fatigue that might have come up during the normal grind. At least worth thinking about the Over, and maybe the Twins.

 

TUESDAY

Cessa: 4.18 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 6.5 K’s per 9 innings

Colon: 8.14 ERA, 1.78 WHIP, 6.0 K’s per 9 innings

Cessa has made 3 starts in six appearances this season for the Yankees. With more innings, his stats are likely to look worse than that. Low K-rates are always a warning sign for guys who can’t automatically crack a rotation. Bartolo Colon was in the process of having one of the worst seasons ever until the Atlanta Braves finally gave up on him. Now he has to face the Yankees offense in a great hitters’ park! How bad can it get?! Expect a high market total…that may still not be high enough considering how many fireworks shows have happened in this stadium this season.

 

WEDNESDAY

Montgomery: 3.78 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 8.5 K’s per 9 innings

Berrios: 3.70 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 8.6 K’s per 9 innings

Something resembling a pitcher’s duel…which feels like Kershaw vs. Scherzer compared to the first two games of the series. Good stuff from both guys considering their home parks. The K-rates aren’t great…but will get the job done. Both teams need these pitchers to keep performing at this level if they’re going to be playing in October.

Should be a fun series for handicappers and bettors. JIM HURLEY is likely to have at least one release in this series based on the early word he’s hearing from his New York sources. You can always purchase BEST BETS right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call us in the office at 1-888-777-4155 during normal business hours. Remember to ask about early-bird football rates when you call. We’re now less than a month away from the start of the NFL Preseason.

We’ll be talking baseball again in a couple of days with a special midweek report. On Friday, we’ll hop over to the National League to preview a showcase showdown matching the Washington Nationals and the Arizona Diamondbacks. Those are two of the top teams in the sport right now, featuring two teams who are already virtual locks to reach the postseason.

It’s great to have baseball back on the schedule as we continue to build our bankrolls for football. LET’S GO GET THE MONEY!

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