After New York Yankees answered back with an extra-innings win on Wednesday night, the Bombers will do battle with the Los Angeles Angels one more time in the rubber game of a three-game set in the Bronx. First pitch from Yankee Stadium is scheduled for 4:05 p.m. ET. It’ll be a battle of lefties on the mound, as L.A.’s Patrick Sandoval (1-0, 1.23 ERA) and New York’s Nestor Cortes (2-0, 2.60) both look continue their hot starts to this season.
The Yankees are currently -155 favorites on the moneyline at DraftKings Sportsbook, while the Angels are +135 underdogs. The run total is set at 8.
Angels-Yankees picks: Thursday, April 20
Out: RP Ryan Tepera (shoulder), 1B Jared Walsh (headaches/insomnia), C Max Stassi (hip)
Out: OF Giancarlo Stanton (hamstring), 3B Josh Donaldson (hamstring), OF Harrison Bader (oblique), SP Carlos Rodon (elbow), SP Luis Severino (lat), Lou Trivino (elbow), Jonathan Loaisiga (elbow)
Patrick Sandoval vs. Nestor Cortes
Sandoval’s top-line numbers are impressive, but plenty of questions remain under the hood. The lefty cruised against the hapless Oakland A’s to open his season, then managed one run in six innings against the Toronto Blue Jays despite only striking out two and allowing plenty of loud contact. He struggled mightily last time out against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway, needing 90 pitches to get through 3.2 innings while allowing three hits and three walks.
Sandoval’s changeup has always been his meal ticket, but hitters haven’t been followed so far this year, posting an expected slugging percentage of .687 against the pitch. The main reason for his success so far? Look no further than a batting average on balls in play of just .217, well below league average — and why his actual ERA (1.23) is so much lower than his expected ERA (4.38). There could be some regression coming soon.
After a slow ramp-up following a hamstring injury this spring, Cortes finally looked like his old Nasty Nestor self last weekend against the Minnesota Twins, striking out seven over seven innings of two-run ball. His four-seamer and his cutter are as elite as they were last year, and he should only get stronger as he builds up stamina with more reps.
Here’s a wild stat: New York has cleared this total exactly five times in 18 games so far this season. Both of these offense are scuffling a bit, and while Sandoval gives us some pause, it’s not enough to think that the Yankees will suddenly bust out for six or seven runs.
Pick: Under 8
Sandoval feels like he’s due for a start where the earned runs finally match the underlying performance, and while the Yankees lineup has seen better days, that regression could come on Thursday — Cortes certainly looks to be the more trustworthy of the two starters, which is why I’m backing New York to get a series win.