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Guardians vs. Yankees Prediction: Expect low-scoring battle in decisive Game 5

After Monday’s rainout, both pitching staffs have the advantage in do-or-die contest

New York Yankees pitcher Nestor Cortes delivers a pitch against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park last month. Cortes will start Game 5 of the American League Division Series on Tuesday against the Cleveland Guardians. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
New York Yankees pitcher Nestor Cortes delivers a pitch against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park last month. Cortes will start Game 5 of the American League Division Series on Tuesday against the Cleveland Guardians. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)Read moreJim Rogash / Getty Images

For the second time in five days, Mother Nature threw a monkey wrench into the American League Division series between the New York Yankees and Cleveland Guardians.

After Game 2 of the best-of-5 set was washed out Thursday in New York, another storm hovered over the Bronx on Monday night, eventually forcing the postponement of a winner-take-all Game 5.

Assuming the weather cooperates, the Yankees and Guardians finally will conclude their compelling series with a late-afternoon clash at Yankee Stadium. The silver lining in Monday’s rainout? Both managers had an opportunity to upgrade their starting pitchers — however, only one elected to do so.

So where does the betting value now lie in the ALDS Game 5 odds market? Here’s our best bet for Tuesday’s Guardians vs. Yankees clash, with first pitch set for 4:07 p.m. ET on TBS.

Guardians vs. Yankees Prediction

  1. UNDER 7 runs (-120)

Guardians vs. Yankees Prediction: Analysis

In our initial ALDS Game 5 betting preview, we mentioned that Yankees manager Aaron Boone and Cleveland skipper Terry Francona would’ve preferred to hand the ball to their Game 2 starting pitchers for the decisive Game 5.

Because of Monday’s washout, both managers got that chance. However, only Boone took advantage of it, opting to go with Nestor Cortes on three days’ rest in place of scheduled Game 5 starter Jameson Taillon. However, Francona announced early Tuesday that he was sticking with Aaron Civale instead of turning to his top gun, 2020 Cy Young winner Shane Bieber.

On paper, that’s a big edge for New York, because Cortes blossomed into a co-ace this season alongside veteran Gerrit Cole. The journeyman southpaw actually outpitched Cole statistically, going 12-4 with a 2.48 ERA and a 0.95 WHIP while making the AL All-Star team.

However, Cortes was merely average in his Game 2 start, surrendering two runs and nine baserunners (six hits, three walks) in five innings. Also, Cortes has only made one start on short rest in his four-year MLB career — and it did not go well. Facing the Tigers late in the 2019 season, he surrendered four runs (two earned) on six hits in 2 1/3 innings.

The good news for the Yankees is Monday’s rainout strengthened their bullpen. Clay Holmes and Willy Peralta, the team’s most reliable back-end relievers, closed out Sunday’s 4-2, season-saving win in Cleveland.

While Holmes and Peralta likely would’ve been available had Monday’s game gone off as planned, who knows how effective they would’ve been pitching on consecutive days. Now that’s not a concern, as Boone has every arm fresh and available to him should Cortes run into trouble.

Of course, the same is true for Francona, whose bullpen has been much more effective than New York’s this postseason. In six playoff games, Cleveland’s relievers have allowed just two earned runs over 26 innings (0.70 ERA). By comparison, the Yankees’ bullpen sports a 3.55 ERA in this series.

As for Francona’s decision to stick with Civale rather than trust his unquestioned ace on short rest, it likely boils down to his confidence in Civale. The right-hander had so-so numbers this year (4-6, 4.92 ERA), but he was terrific down the stretch, allowing two earned runs or fewer in nine of his final 10 starts (with the Guardians going 7-1 in his last eight).

Then again, eight of those 10 outings came against weak, non-playoff competition (Royals, White Sox, Tigers and Rangers). Civale did pitch a gem against the Padres in San Diego (4-1 win), but he also allowed four runs in a loss at Seattle.

Civale also will be taking the mound for the first time since starting the regular season finale on Oct. 5. A 12-day layoff at this point in the season is concerning — especially considering he got roughed up in two starts against the Yankees this season, allowing 10 runs and 12 hits in nine innings. New York won both by the combined tally of 16-3.

Given the do-or-die nature of this game, Francona obviously will have a short leash with Civale and have no problem turning the game over to his capbable bullpen. He’s also got Bieber in his back pocket should he choose to use it.

In fact, the all-hands-on-deck nature of this contest is a big reason why we don’t expect a lot of runs. History also favors a low-scoring contest. The Yankees and Guardians combined for six runs or fewer in three of four games in this series and seven runs or fewer in six of their past seven meetings this season.

Also, since 2012, there have been 14 Game 5 matchups in Division Series play. Nine ended with seven runs or fewer.

Play Under 7 runs at -120 odds at BetMGM.

Guardians vs. Yankees odds (BetMGM)

  1. Moneyline: Guardians (+145) @ Yankees (-175)

  2. Run line: Guardians +1.5 runs (-160) @ Yankees -1.5 runs (+130)

  3. Total: 7 runs (Over +100/Under -120)

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