(Aaron Judge photo courtesy Adam Hunger/USA TODAY Sports)
Note: The 5/5 does NOT represent the best overall pick of the day’s games when there are multiple games, simply the best pick(s) from each individual game.
When and Where: Saturday, July 20, Yankee Stadium, Bronx, N.Y., 1:05 p.m. EDT.
Few things have affected Masahiro Tanaka since joining the New York Yankees in 2014.
But interleague matchups continue to be a puzzling frustration ahead of Saturday’s matinee against the Colorado Rockies.
Senzatela hopes for sharper performance after ugly win
Antonio Senzatela (8-6, 5.79 ERA) has won two of his last three starts despite getting drilled for 20 runs in 14 1-3 innings in those games. Opponents have hit the right-hander at a .339 clip in those games, with eight of the 21 hits going for extra bases.
Senzatela scraped out a win Sunday at Coors Field despite yielding a season-high-tying eight runs in 5 1-3 innings of Colorado’s 10-9 victory over Cincinnati. It was the fifth time he has allowed seven or more runs but the first time he got a “W.”
He won his only previous interleague start this year, holding Toronto to one run in six innings of a 5-1 home victory June 2. Senzatela is 4-3 with a 4.88 on the road despite a 1.60 WHIP and 23 walks in 48 innings.
This will be his first appearance versus the Yankees.
Tanaka seeks fourth straight win
Tanaka (6-5, 3.81) is unbeaten in six starts but ended a winless run of three starts with a solid outing versus Toronto on Sunday, working around a pair of solo homers in six innings of New York’s 4-2 home victory.
This year, those type of outings have eluded Tanaka against the senior circuit. He is 1-2 with a 5.94 ERA in three starts versus the National League this year, losing both games to NL West teams. Even his win in the Subway Series versus the Mets was a chore, giving up five runs and seven hits in 6 2-3 innings of a 12-5 Yankees victory.
Tanaka has split 16 decisions with a 3.70 ERA in 20 starts against the senior circuit and will be making his first career appearance versus Colorado. Last month’s win over the Mets snapped a three-start home losing streak to NL teams and left the righty 4-3 with a 4.01 ERA in eight such starts.
The Yankees are:
- 6-0 in Tanaka’s last six starts.
- 8-1 in Tanaka’s last nine Saturday starts.
- 7-1 in their last eight during game 2 of a series.
The Rockies are:
- 2-8 in their last 10 games vs. right-handed starters.
- 4-13 in their last 17 Saturday games.
- 0-4 in their last four during game 2 of a series.
OVER 6.5 runs 1st 5 innings (-110)
In addition to rapping out 12 hits and belting a pair of homers in Fridays win, the Yankees also drew four walks. Given Senzatela’s lack of command — he has walked three or more in eight of his 17 starts — plus New York’s potent lineup, the Yankees should have plenty of opportunities to score runs and almost take care of this number themselves.
Yankees -1.5 runs (-145)
Despite Tanaka’s struggles against the NL this season, he is pitching better than his record suggests. With the exception of his strikeouts per nine innings, almost all of his numbers are comparable to his career starts, and his batting average on balls put in play (.269) is actually on pace to be his best since 2015.
So it feels like Tanaka’s discrepancies are almost on a start-to-start basis, though as the aforementioned heat map shows, his performance against Toronto feels like something he can build on.
The other factor in New York’s favor continues to be its bludgeoning offense. The Yankees scored 19 runs in winning the final three games of their series versus Tampa Bay that padded their lead in the AL East, and after manager Aaron Boone — serving his one-game suspension in Friday’s 8-2 win for his epic rant at plate umpire Brennan Miller on Thursday — showed he had his players’ backs, there’s a happy vibe in the Bronx.
OVER 11.5 runs (-110)
It is a big number, but Senzatela has offered little confidence in his recent starts he can turn in a quality outing regardless of altitude. His home runs allowed have exceeded his total from last year in a similar number of innings, and a 4.22 walks per nine innings rate against a team in the top third of the AL in drawing them points to a big offensive outing for the Yankees that should help carry the over.
The over also entered Friday night’s series opener 7-3 in Colorado’s last 10 interleague games and 6-2 in its last eight vs. AL East teams. The over is 9-3 in New York’s last 12 interleague games vs. sub-.500 teams and 5-2-1 in its last eight home games against NL teams.
Yankees OVER 6.5 runs (-125)
The Yankees have found their groove with 27 runs in the last four games while plating at least five in each of them. And in dropping 12 of their last 14 games after Friday’s 8-2 defeat, Rockies starters have gone 1-8 with an 8.53 ERA in that span.
Senzatela’s last three starts suggest that trend will continue as Colorado’s offense tries to compensate for its lackluster pitching.
Yankees -1.5 runs first 5 innings (-105)
An aggressive play here on an alternate spread courtesy PointsBet.com, but a justified one considering Senzatela’s struggles and the Yankees’ prolific offense. Additionally, the Yankees are 10-0-1 at the five-inning mark in their last 11 games against sub-.500 teams and have led by two or more runs in six of them.
Yankees OVER 3.5 runs first 5 innings (-125)
The key to taking the five-inning over is the expectation the Yankees will get a read on Senzatela the second time around. The Rockies right-hander has an 8.27 ERA in the fourth inning and a 6.92 ERA in the fifth, while New York is averaging a combined 1.33 runs in those frames.
Colorado has also yielded five or more runs in the first five innings in three of Senzatela’s last six starts.