Thanks to the weather, the Major League Baseball playoffs are treating us to a bonus game here on Tuesday. We'll finally get Game 5 of the ALDS between the Guardians and Yankees in the Bronx and, just when the dust is clearing on that one, we'll shift our focus out to San Diego for the first-ever league championship series between two teams who fell short of 90 regular-season wins in the Phillies and Padres. David vs. David? Sure, why not. The three 100-win NL Goliaths have been slayed by these two teams.
As we enjoy the action, it can't hurt to have a little, um, action of our own. Let's get to it.
As always, lines are courtesy of Caesars
Guardians-Yankees OVER 7 (+100)
I'm going down with the ship after missing the over twice by just a half run. With the bullpens getting an extra day of rest and the Guardians' best four relievers having not pitched since Game 3 (and three of them -- Trevor Stephen, James Karinchak and Emmanuel Clase -- having not thrown since Game 2), this is pretty risky.
Here's my thought process:
I think the Yankees can get to Guardians starter Aaron Civale early. He's mediocre at this point and his stuff won't stifle their power. He allowed 14 homers in just 97 innings in the regular season.
Also, Yankees starter Nestor Cortes gave up two runs in five innings in Game 2. It's always better for the offense to see a starter with this kind of quick turnaround and Cortes has never started on short rest following a start (in 2019, he started in short rest but only went 2 1/3 innings and that was after a very short relief appearance).
Plus, the Guardians have shown they can get to the Yankees' bullpen.
I believe pretty firmly both teams can put at least three runs on the board.
We only need a 4-3 game for a push and anything over that is a win. As I said, I'll go down with this ship if I need to.
Aaron Judge time
It's possible this is Judge's last game before he hits free agency and possibly even his last game as a Yankees player in that ballpark. He's been money all year in the face of pressure, whether it be contract talk or having to deal with questions about getting to 60 homers. He's come through at every step. I'll say he has a good game here on mostly a gut feeling.
Judge has seen Civale 14 times in his career and has a pair of doubles, including one this year as part of a 1 for 5 effort. He's gotten more familiar with the relievers so far this series and starting with the home run in Game 3, he's gotten a lot better swings in the last two games after a disastrous start.
Choose from these:
- Score over 0.5 runs (-139)
- Hit a home run (+210)
- Over 0.5 RBI (+127)
- Over 1.5 total bases (+100)
I tried this method one time earlier this postseason and it was Bryce Harper in Game 4 of the NLDS. He hit a home run and doubled, going over everything. Let's run it back with Judge here!
In fact, let's stay in this lane
Bryce Harper time, too
He's been a man on a mission this postseason. It all started with him working that walk after a 1-2 count in Game 1 of the Wild Card Series. Then he homered in his first at-bat of Game 2, his first pull-side homer since breaking his thumb. He's actually gone 10 for 20 with three doubles, three home runs, six RBI and six runs scored if we start with that Game 1 walk.
In Harper's career in Petco Park, he's hit .299/.413/.533 with five homers in 77 at-bats, including a home run off Padres starter Yu Darvish last time he saw him (July 3, 2021).
Also, he broke his thumb last time he was in this ballpark. I don't think stuff like this matters often, but Harper is the type of player where I add bonus points for extra motivation.
- Over 0.5 runs (+108)
- Hit a home run (+370)
- Over 0.5 RBI (+151)
- Over 1.5 total bases (+108)
Pick what you like. While we're here ...
Also, Juan Soto time
Soto hasn't been his old self all season, really. A career .301/.432/.550 hitter coming in, he hit .242/.401/.485 this season. Almost all of the shortfall there is simply batting average, due to losing huge in BABIP (career .330 before this year, .249 this year), which was driven by not hitting the ball as hard as he has in the past as well as pulling the ball into the shift more often.
That said, he has started to turn the tide. In the NLDS against the Dodgers, he put 12 balls in play and nine of them qualified as "hard hit." Five of those qualified as either "straightaway" or opposite-field. Small sample? Obviously, but it's Juan Freaking Soto. The only reason I dug into the data is because I felt like he started to look like his old self. The eye test late in the series was there.
Soto is also very familiar with Phillies starter Zack Wheeler from his time in the NL East. They've seen each other 49 times. Soto has hit .290/.449/.474 with a double and two homers.
- Over 0.5 runs (-115)
- Hit a home run (+650)
- Over 0.5 RBI (+205)
- Over 0.5 total bases (-198)
With Soto drawing a lot of value from walks and Manny Machado's hot bat behind him in the order, I like runs the most. As always, though, pick what you like.
That home run value is awfully juicy, I must say ...