New York Yankees at Houston Astros MLB Pick for April 8th

by Taylor Smith
on April 8, 2019

Minute Read

It’s early. The 2019 Major League Baseball regular season is a little over a week old, and every team still has over 150 games left to play. Still, I don’t think it’s too early to suggest that tonight’s first of 3 in Houston could be a potential postseason preview. The New York Yankees, fresh off a 15-3 drubbing of the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday, will head down to Texas to take on the Astros, who swept the Oakland A’s over the weekend.

Both teams are among the heavy World Series betting favorites, as the Yankees are currently listed at +550 to win the Fall Classic, while Houston is listed at +500 (per MyBookie). However, both teams have gotten off to fairly mediocre starts. Prior to sweeping the O’s over the weekend, New York had dropped 2 of 3 in each of their first 2 series of the season against mediocre Baltimore and Detroit clubs. The Astros, meanwhile, lost 3 of 4 in Tampa to start the season before dropping 2 of 3 in Arlington.

With both teams riding 3-game winning streaks coming into tonight’s game, however, things appear to be trending in the right direction. We’ll have quite a pitching matchup on tap for Monday’s series opener, with Masahiro Tanaka toeing the rubber for the Yankees opposite Houston ace Justin Verlander.

The following odds are courtesy of our live odds feed:

Betting Data Yankees Astros
2019 Straight-Up 5-4 5-5
2019 Home 2-4 3-0
2019 Away 3-0 2-5
2019 ATR 5-4-0 2-8-0
2019 ATR Home 2-4-0 1-2-0
2019 ATR Away 3-0-0 1-6-0
2019 O/U 5-4-0 2-8-0
2019 O/U Home 2-4-0 1-2-0
2019 O/U Away 3-0-0 1-6-0

New York Power

The Yankees led all of baseball in home runs last season, and they generally tend to be a pretty smart betting option when it comes to betting the over. That power was on full display on Sunday, as star catcher Gary Sanchez slugged 3 homers of his own in the 15-3 rout. Clint Frazier added 2 of his own, while Gleyber Torres and Austin Romine also went deep in the dominant victory.

The Yanks’ 20 homers so far this season ranks third in the big leagues behind the Mariners and Dodgers, who have each gotten off to flying starts of their own. New York also happens to own the sixth-best team ERA to this point (2.89), so they have been getting it done on both sides.

Tanaka has made 2 starts so far this season. He has only yielded a pair of earned runs, but he’s also allowed 14 hits across just 12.1 innings to this point. The fact that he hasn’t allowed a home run is a plus, as that aspect of the game has been relative weakness for the right-hander in the past. Tanaka allowed 25 homers last year, just a season after coughing up 35 long balls.

However, he’ll have a tall task in front of him this evening. Tanaka has been a reverse splits righty in his career, which means right-handed hitters have fared better against him than their left-handed counterparts. The Astros’ lineup is laden with right-handed power hitters, which isn’t exactly ideal for Tanaka.

It’s also worth noting that the Yankee lineup is fairly weak right now, with Giancarlo Stanton, Miguel Andujar and Troy Tulowitzki all on the injured list. Sanchez, Torres and Aaron Judge are still threatening hitters, but New York’s lineup loses some depth with so many big bats currently sidelined.

Astros’ Road to Redemption

Houston bowed out of the ALCS last year in 5 games at the hands of the Red Sox after entering the playoffs as the betting favorite to win it all. The Astros were dealing with some key injuries, as both Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa were battling fairly debilitating injuries. Both are back and healthy this season, though, so Houston’s World Series hopes are back on track.

Verlander was dominant in his first start, as he held the Rays to just a run on 3 hits with 9 strikeouts over the course of 7 strong innings. He struggled in his second start, however, as the Rangers touched him up to the tune of 4 runs on 6 hits in 4 innings, including a home run. Verlander is a fly ball pitcher that will allow some long balls, but he’s largely been dominant since coming to Houston from the Tigers in 2017.

Verlander posted a stellar 34.8 percent strikeout rate a season ago, which put him among the league leaders in that department. The 28 homers allowed was a high number, but he held opponents to a hard-hit rate south of 30 percent and walks were not an issue in the least.

The Pick

Houston is 3-0 thus far at home, while the Yankees are 3-0 away from Yankee Stadium. Obviously, something has to give tonight. Verlander made 2 starts against the Yankees this season, and the former AL MVP limited the high-octane offense to just a run on 8 hits over the course of 14.2 innings of work with 19 strikeouts and no walks.

Tanaka, meanwhile, gave up 3 runs on 5 hits in 6 innings in his lone appearance against the Astros a season ago. Houston’s offense has been fairly quiet thus far in 2019, but it’s only a matter of time until they start to get it going.

Down a few of their key hitters, I’m not convinced the Yankees put up much of a fight tonight against Verlander and a stellar Astros bullpen. Tanaka is more vulnerable, however, and his matchup is considerably more difficult. The Astros are favored in this one, and with good reason. Houston to win on the moneyline isn’t that profitable a bet, but you can take them to cover the 1 ½-run spread at +130, which is interesting.

I think Houston generates enough offense to get that done, while the Yankees are in for a quiet night at the plate. Give me Houston to cover the runline in this spot.

Pick: Houston -1.5

$100 stake could win...

Taylor Smith

Taylor Smith has been a staff writer with since early 2017. Taylor is primarily a sports writer, though he will occasionally dabble in other things like politics and entertainment betting. His primary specialties are writing about the NBA, Major League Baseball, NFL and domestic and international soccer. Fringe sports like golf and horse racing aren’t exactly his cup of tea, but he’s willing to take one for the team on that front every now and then.

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