AL Wildcard Betting Preview (ESPN, 8:05 p.m. ET)
Minnesota Twins vs. New York Yankees
Tuesday, Oct. 3 from Yankee Stadium
The Minnesota Twins are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2010 as an organization, although I’m sure they would have rather seen a different opponent if history is any indication. Minnesota’s last two appearances in the postseason (2009, 2010) were ended at the hand of the New York Yankees during the American League Divisional Series.
In fact, Minnesota didn’t even win a single game in either of those series’, and four of the last five times the Twins have played October baseball, their season has been ended by the Bronx Bombers.
2017 Head-to-Head Matchups (New York 4-2, Under 5-1)
New York vs. Minnesota (Yankee Stadium)
Sept. 18 – Yankees 2 Twins 1 (Under 8.5)
Sept. 19 – Yankees 5 Twins 2 (Under 8.5)
Sept. 20 – Yankees 11 Twins 3 (Over 8.5)
Minnesota vs. New York (Target Field)
July 17 – Twins 4 Yankees 2 (Under 10)
July 18 – Yankees 6 Twins 3 (Under 10.5)
July 19 – Twins 6 Yankees 1 (Under 9)
While none of those previous meetings were one-game, winner-take-all scenarios like this 2017 Wildcard game, history looks to be clearly on New York’s side here, and the oddsmakers are going to make you swallow quite a bit of chalk if you are going to side with that history and take New York.
The New York Yankees have looked like they are set for the next decade with the young core of superstars they’ve got, and now those same young superstars get an opportunity to grow up in a hurry with the experience of playoff baseball.
Any MLB player will tell you that October baseball always feels different, and it will be interesting to see how many of these young Yankees react. They do have the benefit of being at home in comfortable surroundings, but since this Wildcard game was introduced in MLB back in 2012, home teams are just 3-7 SU (2-3 SU in AL Wildcard games). That’s not an ideal trend for anyone considering laying the -230 price tag on the Yankees here, but even with that price and the rough history for home teams, New York will end up being quite a popular side for this AL Wildcard game.
Minnesota is a relatively young team as well, and their trip to Yankee Stadium near the end of September ended in a three-game sweep. New York outscored the Twins 18-6 during those three games, but that number is a little skewed thanks to an 11-3 game in the series finale.
Twins starter Ervin Santana started the opener in that series and went 5.2 innings en route to a 2-1 loss, but if Minnesota can get a similar performance from Santana in the Wildcard game, they’ve got to like their chances. If Minnesota ends up being the side that is the extreme minority, a RL play at +1.5 (-106) might be the better betting option in terms of taking a side. However, this total of 7.5 seems more like the wager to attack for this high-stakes affair.
Taking ‘over’s in Yankees home games is always a popular play, but with Luis Severino’s last start vs. Minnesota being that 11-3 New York win a few weeks back, and both teams heavily reliant on their respective offenses to win games, this total of 7.5 is a little low. Both of these teams can launch the ball out of the ballpark – especially one like Yankee Stadium – and get a couple of runners on base prior to one of those HR’s leaving the yard, and crooked numbers are posted in a hurry.
Severino starting for New York is significant, as he lasted just three innings in that late-September game and gave up all three runs to the Twins that day. Another tough outing like that could be in the works here with Minnesota laying it all on the line, and Minnesota is likely to get another slugging bat back in their lineup with Miguel Sano returning. New York is on a 10-2 O/U run with Severino on the hill, and that includes a 7-1 O/U run when at home.
Finally, it’s still expected to be little warmer than seasonal average in New York for this game and warmer weather always helps balls fly in the Bronx. The Yankees are a team that’s built to have success with the longball, and Santana did finish T10th in all of baseball with 31 HR’s allowed this season.
He does have a history of strong outings in this stadium, as his three outings for the Twins at Yankee Stadium since 2015 have all been one-run losses – another reason to consider Minnesota +1.5 on the RL – and all three did stay below the posted total. But he did allow a HR in two of those three starts, and none of them quite had the stakes that this Wildcard game does. Allowing another long ball to this Yankees lineup is highly likely here, and like I said before, all it takes is for New York to have a man or two already on and this 7.5 total gets threatened in a heartbeat.
October baseball is usually a boom for ‘under’ bettors, but given the matchup we’ve got here in terms of the stadium, both starting pitchers, and how both offensive lineups will be constructed, this is not a game you want to really be holding an ‘under’ ticket unless you like a serious sweat.