The two favorites to win the American League pennant will kick off a four-game series on Thursday night when Framber Valdez and the Houston Astros take on Jameson Taillon and the New York Yankees.
The Astros come into the series trailing the Yankees by 7.5 games in the standings, while the Bombers also boast an 84-run edge in terms of run differential. The Yankees are -130 favorites to win on Thursday night and if the line closes there it would be only the 11th time that the Evil Empire has closed under -130 this season.
That tells you a couple of things. Of course, the fact that the Yankees have been -130 or above in 58 of their 69 games is incredibly impressive. But the current price also shows us that the market is pretty bullish on the Astros, even if they are trailing the Bombers by quite a bit in the table.
Astros vs. Yankees odds
Odds provided by BetMGM
Spread: HOU +1.5 (-185) vs. NYY -1.5 (+150)
Moneyline: HOU (+110) vs. NYY (-130)
Total: Over 8 (-115) | Under 8 (-105)
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Astros vs. Yankees prediction
One reason to be a little skeptical of Houston’s record is that the Astros have only played 17 games against teams with a record above .500. Those numbers can be a little skewed this early in the season, but it’s still pretty odd because every other team in the MLB has played at least 25 games against clubs above the Mason-Dixon Line. The Yankees, for instance, have played 31 games (22-9) against teams above .500.
The pitching matchup for Thursday night is quite interesting as it features two starters — Jameson Taillon and Framber Valdez — with similar statistical portfolios. Neither Taillon nor Valdez will rack up strikeouts, but they do a great job avoiding barrels and keeping the ball in the ballpark. Valdez is especially adept at inducing groundballs, sporting a league-best 67.5 GB% through 81 innings of work. To put that in perspective, no other MLB pitcher is 57 GB% on the season.
While Taillon’s GB% doesn’t come close to Valdez’s, it’s still strong and the Yankee right-hander is the league’s best starter at limiting walks so far this season.
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Despite a pitching matchup that features two hurlers with ERAs under 3, the total for this game is at 8 with the Over slightly juiced to -115. And while backing the Under in a game that features two of the best offenses in the MLB playing in a ballpark that invites runs, these two starters are both sensational at limiting damage and wriggling out of trouble.
In games like this, the over often becomes inflated so you could be patient to see if this number continues to tick up towards 8.5, but even at the current price the Under 8 seems playable.
Astros vs. Yankees pick
Under 8 (-105) — BetMGM