MLB fans get a fun inter-league showdown at Yankee Stadium on Friday night, as the New York Yankees host the Milwaukee Brewers in game one of a three-game series. New York has been playing a back and forth game with the Boston Red Sox atop the AL East, but a two-game skid and 4-6 stretch over their last 10 games has them 3.5 games back heading into the weekend. The Brewers are in a much better spot after slamming the rival Cubs last night, as they’re now sitting pretty 48-40 thanks to a four-game winning streak.
Normally the easy bet would be the Yanks at home, but the Brew Crew has been about as potent as anyone offensively this year and also have been rather impressive (22-17) away from Miller Park. Milwaukee’s bats are usually what decide their fate and they enter tonight’s series opener with a chance to really prove they’re for real with a massive upset.
Vegas does not like the Brewers here, but it’s up to us to figure out whether or not they have enough working for them to take them as a huge road underdog, or consider placing a bet elsewhere in this contest. Let’s take a closer look at tonight’s matchup at Yankee Stadium to find out:
Milwaukee Brewers (+170) @ New York Yankees (-200) Total: 10.5
Junior Guerra (1-3, 4.93) vs. Jordan Montgomery (6-4, 3.62 ERA)
Backing the Yankees feels like an easy call here. Montgomery is pretty stable for a rookie pitcher and he and his Yanks are at home, where New York boasts a stellar 25-15 record. Milwaukee’s pitching isn’t scary at first glance, either. Of course, we get no value in backing the Yanks, who desperately need to keep pace with Boston, but simply are not getting it done lately.
I’m not even going to waste your time trying to puff up Guerra. The 32-year old righty owns a nasty 6.19 ERA on the road and hasn’t been in good form lately, giving up 3+ runs in each of his last five starts and 8 to the Reds in Cincinnati two starts ago. New York wrecks everyone, but they specifically dominate right-handed pitching (5th in HR, 3rd in BA). I’m not about to pretend there’s reason to believe Guerra comes out and spins a gem. Yankee Stadium is a brutal park and this Yankees lineup isn’t a good matchup in any regard.
The only silver lining here is Guerra does know how to manage games and even though he’ll give up some runs, he has a chance at limiting the damage. Aiding his cause has been New York’s lackluster offense, which hasn’t put up more than 6 runs in any of their last five contests and has been held to just one run twice during that stretch. I know, this is the Yankees and they can sound off at any time. We do have to take note of that, but Guerra at least can manage games if he can find a way to keep his walks under wraps. If he can eat 5-6 innings and the Brewer bats show up, we could have some serious value here.
On the other side the Yanks get a surprisingly far more stable arm in rookie southpaw, Jordan Montgomery. He’s been rather strong for much of 2017, but he’s shown mild signs of regression due to sporadic hard contact – namely homers (7 given up over his last five outings). That’s not something you want to hear about from a pitcher making a start against a mash squad like the Brewers at Yankee Stadium.
Montgomery has more K upside than the pitcher he’s facing and the Brewers do strikeout a ton, but I’m not sure he can get through this lineup more than twice without giving up some serious damage. Milwaukee as a whole isn’t lights out against left-handed pitching, but they’re still a threat, ranking 14th in home runs and 13th in batting average. Individually, Ryan Braun, Eric Thames and Domingo Santana all provide scary power and strong numbers against lefties, which gives Montgomery a lot to worry about.
Maybe this all still leads to Guerra struggling early and Montgomery racking up a career high in Ks. Then again, the hotter team could come in, contain the Yanks early and either blast away or rack up walks with their three assets in this matchup coming through. It’s not the safest play on today’s MLB betting slate, but it sure is one of the most attractive ones given the upside. We note the risk, but we’re riding the hot hand and the upside and taking the Brew Crew in this one.