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New York came into the season with big expectations after setting the MLB record for home runs last season. A quick look at the AL East standings and it is no surprise to see the Yankees with a two-game lead in the division race. However, things haven’t exactly gone as expected and the Bronx Bombers have been forced to overcome injuries to several of their star players. Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Miguel Andujar, and Luis Severino are among the names who have spent most of the 2019 season on the injured list. Yet, somehow the B-Team Bombers are not far off that pace, and 22-year-old infielder Gleyber Torres has led the charge, hitting .302 with 12 home runs so far this season. Can the short-handed Yankees keep up their unlikely run when they take on the Royals in Game 1 of the doubleheader on Saturday?
Green expected to start as the opener
While New York has catapulted themselves into first place in the AL East in the unlikeliest of scenarios, it has become no secret that the Yankees are in desperate need of rotation depth in what has become a heated division race. The club recently placed C.C. Sabathia on the 10-day injured list, James Paxton has been on the IL with left knee inflammation and the team has already been dealing with the loss of staff ace Luis Severino. Not like other seasons, New York will be in the market for starting pitching at the trade deadline, but one name that has consistently been linked to the Bronx Bombers has been that of former AL Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel. The former Astros lefty remains on the free agent market and would allow the organization to bolster its starting rotation, while keeping their prospects.
Sept 20th 2018
Luke Voit becomes the 12th Yankee to reach double-digit homers, a new MLB record, and breaks the franchise mark with 246 home runs in season pic.twitter.com/xvjhrAVZvC
— New York Yankees Snob (@davidtabrown) May 17, 2019
After Friday’s game was postponed, the Yankees are scheduled to start right-hander Chad Green in Game 1 on Saturday afternoon. Green is set to perform in the infamous opener role in what will be a bullpen game for the Yankees. This will be his second time being used as an opener and he will be hoping for better results in this one after surrendering two home runs in 1 ⅔ innings versus the Tampa Bay Rays. The 28-year-old is 0-2 with a 12.41 ERA in 14 appearances so far this season and he’s been doomed by a home run per fly ball rate of 35.3 percent. He tossed a scoreless inning against the Royals in a 6-1 loss on April 18, but followed that up by surrendering three earned runs on two hits and a walk without getting an out in his next appearance against them on April 21.
Junis hoping for better results vs. Yankees
Kansas City is expected to counter with right-hander Jakob Junis, who was scheduled for Game 1 on Friday. Despite the Royals’ struggles over the last two years, the 26-year-old came into the season with an 18-15 career record, but he hasn’t been able to recapture that form in 2019. Junis is 3-5 with a 5.69 ERA and he’s struggled as of late, giving up four earned runs or more in six of his previous eight outings, including each of his last three. The Royals’ right-hander is fresh off of his longest outing of the season, but lost his third consecutive decision after allowing five runs (four earned) on six hits in seven innings of work.
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— Yahoo Sports MLB (@MLByahoosports) May 16, 2019
Junis made a start versus the Yankees earlier this season, giving up five runs (four earned) in 5 ⅓ frames in a loss on April 14. In his previous three career starts against New York, the Royals’ right-hander went 1-2 with a 6.32 ERA.
According to Baseball Savant, the current Yankees’ roster is batting a healthy .340 in 56 plate appearances versus the Royals’ right-hander. StatCast projects the Yankees for an expected batting average of .292 and an expected slugging percentage of .505 off of Junis heading into Saturday’s start.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Green is a curious choice for the opener as he has been hit extremely hard this season. He’s giving up home runs at an unfathomable rate and the Royals got to him in his last appearance against them earlier this year. Junis has not had a lot of success against the Yankees in his career, but he gets the benefit of the doubt here against a banged up lineup. This is probably the Royals’ best shot at a win in this series, so take Kansas City to open the series with a win on Saturday afternoon.
Prediction: Pick: Kansas City Royals +119
Full-Game Total Pick
Both of these teams will be eager to swing the bat after Friday’s game was postponed due to inclement weather. The Yankees have gone over the projected total in each of their last five games and the over is 24-5-1 in their last 30 road games. Meanwhile, the over is 8-2-1 in their last 11 Saturday games and 13-2-1 in the Royals’ last 16 home games versus a team with a road winning percentage greater than .600. Take this American League showdown to go over the projected total on Saturday afternoon.
Prediction: Over 9.5