Aug. 11 MLB Preview — New York Yankees (76-41) at Toronto Blue Jays (49-71)

(Masahiro Tanaka photo courtesy Tommy Gilligan/USA TODAY Sports)

This is the full preview(s) as seen on the Winners and Whiners and Stat Salt websites. The confidence rating for all picks on a scale from 1 to 5 is in parentheses.

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: Sunday, Aug. 11, Rogers Centre, Toronto, Ont., 1:07 p.m. EDT.

The AL East-leading New York Yankees are hoping an extra day of rest helps Masahiro Tanaka end his road woes as they wrap up a four-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Yanks push Tanaka back with doubleheader looming Monday

The Yankees opted to give Tanaka (7-6, 4.93 ERA) an extra day of rest because they planned on using an opener for one of their games in Monday’s doubleheader versus Baltimore and did not want to start openers in back-to-back contests. As a result, Chad Green was pushed up into Tanaka’s slot for Saturday’s game.

The extra day of rest has usually done the right-hander good, as Tanaka is 3-2 with a 3.53 ERA in 10 starts on five days of rest. Tanaka’s road woes, however, continued Monday at Baltimore, where he was knocked around for five runs and 10 hits in 5 1-3 innings. His troubles in the sixth inning cost him a victory as he and the bullpen failed to protect a five-run lead before New York eventually won 9-6.

“It’s been really frustrating,” Tanaka said through translator Shingo Horie to the Yankees’ official website. “These recent games, I’ve been giving up runs like that in one inning — big runs. I really need to turn that around.”

Tanaka is 0-2 with a 10.41 ERA in his last six road starts, which includes a loss at Toronto on June 4 when he allowed a pair of home runs in a four-run fifth that led to a 4-3 defeat. He is 1-3 with a 4.68 ERA in his last six starts north of the border after winning his first two.

Randal Grichuk has seen the ball well coming out of Tanaka’s hand, going 4 for 12 with three homers and a double.

Thornton set for first start at home in five weeks

Blue Jays rookie Trent Thornton (4-7, 5.55) continues to have an uneven season as he navigates his first year in the majors. The right-hander is making his first start at home since the All-Star break after going 1-1 with a 10.29 ERA in four starts that included three at AL East rival ballparks.

Thornton was unable to build on his sharp outing against Baltimore as Tampa Bay socked three homers in a six-run fourth, chasing him after 3 2-3 innings and failing to protect a six-run lead as Toronto eventually lost 7-6 in 10 innings.

“I felt good from the start, it just came down to three pitches that weren’t over the heart of the plate,” Thornton lamented to the Jays’ official website. “They weren’t well executed at all. If I execute those pitches, it could be a completely different story.”

The long ball has also been problematic for Thornton against the Yankees, who have taken him deep three times in 8 1-3 innings spanning two starts. The righty did not get a decision in either contest as he allowed nine runs and 12 hits. DJ LeMahieu and the recently returned Gary Sanchez have each homered against Thornton while going a combined 5 for 10.

Notable Trends

The Blue Jays are:

  • 0-5 in Thornton’s last five starts vs. above-.500 teams.
  • 2-6 in Thornton’s last eight starts vs. AL East teams.
  • 0-4 in their last four Sunday games.

The Yankees are:

  • 9-1 in Tanaka’s last 10 starts.
  • 4-0 in Tanaka’s last four starts on five days of rest.
  • 18-6 in Tanaka’s last 24 road starts vs. sub-.500 teams.

*****5-Star Pick*****

OVER 6 runs first 5 innings (-105)

This is an anti-Thornton pick, as the two games he has started against the Yankees have resulted in eight and 12 runs in the first five innings. The five-inning over continues to trend strongly with New York, going 17-4-1 in its last 22 games. It is also 4-2-2 in Thornton’s last eight starts.

****4-Star Pick****

Yankees -1.5 runs (-125)

While Tanaka does not have to be great to win this game given Thornton’s inconsistencies from start to start, the Yankees right-hander does have the luxury of a great mistake eraser in his team’s offense, which has scored at least four runs in 10 of the last 11 games.

New York is giving Tanaka nearly six runs of support per start, and after back-to-back losses, the Yankees should be primed for a breakout game to salvage a split of this series.

***3-Star Picks***

OVER 11 runs (-105)

While the under is 4-1 in Tanaka’s last five starts against the Blue Jays, the over is trending nearly every place else when he pitches. The over is 4-1 in his last five divisional matchups, 4-0 in his last four road starts, 11-4 in his last 15 road starts against teams with losing records and 9-3 in New York’s last 12 games against righties.

The over is a robust 10-1-1 in Thornton’s last 12 starts against above-.500 teams and 6-1 in his last seven against AL East foes. His gopher ball tendencies do not bode well against a team that can mash mistakes with fury like the Yankees, who have delivered the over in 16 of their last 21 games.

Yankees OVER 6 runs (-121)

This is a confidence pick in the Yankees continuing to close out series in strong fashion. They have scored seven or more runs in their last five series-finishing games and plated six in their previous series finale at Rogers Centre.

Yankees -0.5 runs (-140)

The Yankees are 8-2 at the five-inning mark in Tanaka’s last 10 starts and split the right-hander’s two outings versus the Blue Jays. While New York’s two matchups against Thornton have been deadlocks after five innings, Tanaka’s form and pitching on an extra day of rest makes New York the play.

UNDER 0.5 runs/NO to 1st inning run (+111)

A counter pick to a degree, but one worth trying. Despite a 5.09 first-inning ERA, Thornton has been reached for runs just twice in his last 15 starts — both times by Boston. He also has held the Yankees off the board in the first in his two starts.

Aside from his disastrous outing in London, Tanaka has not given up a first-inning run in nine starts with five or more days of rest and has also recorded two scoreless opening frames versus Toronto.

Published by:

Chris Altruda

Currently a freelance sportswriter on the hunt for full-time work. If you like my work or have constructive criticism, please share it and/or contact me at chris.altruda@hotmail.com or via Twitter at @AlTruda73 My portfolio of clippings can be viewed at http://www.clippings.me/caltruda And thank you for taking time out of your day to read my posts.

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