After taking three of four in Toronto, the New York Yankees (26-20) take their road trip south to Ohio for a weekend tilt against the Cincinnati Reds (19-24). First pitch of the series opener from Great American Ballpark is set for 6:40 p.m. ET. Righty Clarke Schmidt (1-4, 6.30 ERA) will go for New York, while Cincy counters with Ben Lively (1-1, 1.69) in his first start of the year.
New York is a -165 favorite on the moneyline at DraftKings Sportsbook, while Cincy is a +140 underdog. The run total is set at 10.5.
Yankees-Reds picks: Friday, May 19
Out: C Jose Trevino (hamstring), SP Luis Severino (lat), SP Domingo German (suspension), RP Ian Hamilton (groin), OF/DH Giancarlo Stanton (hamstring), 3B Josh Donaldson (hamstring), INF Oswald Peraza (hamstring), RP Tommy Kahnle (biceps), SP Carlos Rodon (back)
Out: SP Nick Lodolo (leg), RP Fernando Cruz (shoulder), OF TJ Friedl (oblique), RP Tony Santillan (back), 1B Joey Votto (shoulder), RP Connor Overton (elbow)
Clarke Schmidt vs. Ben Lively
Schmidt continues to struggle against better offenses, getting pounded by the Tampa Bay Rays in his last outing to the tune of seven runs in just 4.1 innings. The righty has swing-and-miss stuff (48 Ks over 40 innings) but his hard-hit rate, expected batting average and expected slugging percentage all rank towards the bottom of the league. The main culprit: Schmidt has no way to get lefties out, with an OPS allowed (1.104) nearly 400 points higher than his mark against right-handed batters (.726). His slider can be a legit out pitch, but his sinker, cutter and curve — basically, anything he’d throw to opposite-handed hitters — have gotten crushed as his command just isn’t good enough.
Lively made his season debut last week, getting the call to be the bulk man in a bullpen game against the New York Mets, and the journeyman righty acquitted himself surprisingly well with three shutout innings. Of course, it remains to be seen how much of that was a fluke, as the righty hadn’t pitched in the Majors since 2019 and had a 4.14 ERA over three years in Korea before signing a Minor League deal with the pitching-desperate Reds last season.
This is the single highest number on the slate today, and you can understand why: Schmidt’s last two games have produced 15 total runs each, while the a newly revitalized Yankees offense has cleared this number in seven of their last 12. Taking the under at homer-happy GABP is always a dicey proposition, but this total is too rich for my blood; Cincy doesn’t have the sort of left-handed bats that can really hurt Schmidt, while the Yankees will be able to lean on one of the best bullpens in baseball to help keep scoring relatively under control. The margin for error is simply too small with a number this high.
Pick: Under 10.5
I’m tempted to take the plus odds with Cincy given Schmidt’s penchant for blow-ups, but outside of Jake Fraley, the Reds are lacking impact left-handed bats and could struggle against the righty and his sweeper Friday night. Combine that with Aaron Judge, Anthony Rizzo and Co. getting to face a mediocre journeyman, and I’m sticking with New York.