The final League Championship Series ticket will finally be punched Tuesday when the Cleveland Guardians and New York Yankees meet in their ALDS Game 5 at Yankee Stadium.
The game was initially scheduled for Monday but was postponed due to rain in New York. The Yankees staved off elimination Sunday with a brilliant performance from ace Gerrit Cole. Harrison Bader hit his third homer of the series in New York’s 4-2 win.
New York will send Nestor Cortes to the mound on three days’ rest. Nasty Nestor has the opportunity to send the Yankees to the ALCS for the third time in six years but the first since 2019. Cortes was solid in his lone previous playoff outing, tossing five innings of six-hit, two-run ball in a no decision.
Cleveland will go with Aaron Civale to open then depend on its reliable bullpen from there. Civale went 5-6 with a 4.92 ERA during the regular season and was 0-2 with a 10.00 ERA in a pair of regular-season outings against the Yankees.
Time to reveal my betting picks for the Yankees-Guardians ALDS Game 5.
Pat Pickens’ MLB Playoffs Betting Record: 11-12 (+2.6 Units)
Yankees vs Guardians Game 5 Odds
The Yankees are heavy favorites playing at home, with Cortes on the mound, after avoiding elimination in Game 4.
Yankees vs Guardians Game 5 Prediction
Yankees 5, Guardians 3
Much has been made about the rain out benefitting Cleveland, which would be true if manager Terry Francona decided to toss ace Shane Bieber on three-days’ rest. But the case can be made the postponement behooves the Yankees more. Original Game 5 starter Jameson Taillon has been reliable, but Cortes has pitched like an ace all season — the 1B to Cole.
Plus, New York got an extra day to rest its own depleted bullpen.
That means Yankees manager Aaron Boone can roll with Lou Trivino, Jonathan Loaisiga, Clay Holmes. Plus, the ever-reliable Wandy Peralta, who has pitched in every game in the series, closed Game 4 and was in line to pitch for the fourth straight day if not for the rain out. In addition, Cole got a day to rest after throwing 110 pitches in Game 4 and could be in line for a relief appearance.
Civale has been good lately, if Francona decides to stick with him, winning his past three outings but does not have good career numbers against New York. Don’t be stunned if Francona only asks for one trip through the order before going to Trevor Stephan, James Karinchak, Enyal De Los Santos, Eli Morgan, and the rest of Cleveland’s stout ‘pen ahead of elite closer Emmanuel Clase.
Bieber has never pitched on three days’ rest, which likely explains Francona’s decision to go with Civale and the pen, especially since he’ll be back on full rest for Game 1 in the ALCS in Houston on Wednesday if necessary.
Still, this is do-or-die season. The Yankees have built early leads in every game in this series. Look for them to do so again and hold off another late-game surge from the Cleveland offense, before taking off for Houston to start the 2022 ALCS on Wednesday.
Yankees vs Guardians Game 5 Best Bet
Yankees -1.5 (+125) at FanDuel Sportsbook
Wager: 1 Unit
Three of the previous four games have been decided by more than a run, including both Yankees wins. If it’s a one-run game that would behoove the Guardians greatly. I think the Yankees will win by more than a run.
Yankees vs Guardians Game 5 Props
Yankees Win By 1-3 Runs (+115) at FanDuel Sportsbook
I’ve correctly hit this prop in each of the previous two games, which means there’s no reason to deviate from it for Game 5. The Yankees offense has been home-run reliant and hasn’t scored more than five runs in any game in the series. Plus, Cleveland’s bullpen has been awesome, which means New York isn’t likely to blow out the Guardians.
If you think the Guardians will win the game, take them in this prop at +210. But the Yankees winning a close game is the most likely outcome.
Anthony Rizzo To Hit a Home Run (+400) at FanDuel Sportsbook
Wager: 0.5 Units
This is a good long-odds prop to target if you’re feeling frisky. As stated above, the Yankees have been homer happy with seven home runs, including Rizzo’s two-run blast off Cal Quantrill in Game 1.
Rizzo has had a great series at the plate (.286/.412/.571, 1 HR, 3 RBI) and has great numbers off Civale. Rizzo is 5 for 10 with a double and two homers in his career against Cleveland’s Game 5 starter.
If you believe Bader can do it again, take him to homer at +520. I’ll be taking Rizzo.
MLB ALDS Props
Previous: Yankees vs Guardians Game 4 Prediction
Yankees 5, Guardians 2
There’s a lot not to like if you’re a Yankees fan. New York has had multi-run leads in each of the past two games and lost. The Yankees have scored only one run in this series by a method other than a home run. Their bullpen is clearly depleted, and their available arms have been shaky.
Still, there’s a reason New York gave $324 million over nine years: To win must-win games in October. Cole carved up the Guardians after surrendering a solo homer to Steven Kwan, and the fact he will pitch on full rest gives the Yankees a huge advantage. In addition, New York will have closer Clay Holmes available to lock down any ninth-inning lead Sunday.
Quantrill was good in Game 1, and Cleveland’s bullpen has been great in this series. However, the Guardians offense clearly has some late-game magic working, and four-game series upsets are possible — ask the Braves and Dodgers.
But there has to be at least one five-game division series. So this is the only one left.
Yankees vs Guardians Game 4 Best Bet
Yankees -1.5 (+104) at FanDuel Sportsbook
It’s hard to trust the Yankees to hold a multi-run lead, and they haven’t exactly tacked on runs in this series, either. But if you trust Cole to shut down Cleveland and get the ball to Holmes in the ninth inning, then New York will probably win by more than one run.
Yankees vs Guardians Game 4 Props
Gerrit Cole: Over 6.5 K’s (+120) at FanDuel Sportsbook
The Guardians don’t strike out much, and their offense, which was in shambles during their first three postseason games, looks more dangerous. Still, Cleveland has struck out at least eight times in every game in this series, with 10 Ks in Game 3 and nine in Game 1 when Cole struck out eight himself.
Cole has seven-plus Ks in nine of his past 11 playoff starts, with three coming against Cleveland. He should be able to strike out seven in an elimination game, even with a short leash.
Yankees Win By 1-3 Runs (+140) at FanDuel Sportsbook
This has been my go-to prop for this series since the games tend to get extra tight this time of the year. If you want to bet the Guardians to close out the series by 1-3 runs, that is +185 at FanDuel. I happen to think the Yankees will find a way to force a Game 5.
Yankees vs Guardians Game 3 Prediction
Guardians 4, Yankees 1
The Guardians are starting to look like a handful for the Yankees, who won 99 games during the regular season yet find themselves without home-field advantage in what is now a best-of-3 series.
Severino is something of a wild card for the Yankees given his injury history and postseason numbers. He could pitch like an ace, which he has of late, going 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA and 17 strikeouts over three September starts after coming off the injured list. Or he could pitch as he has in the playoffs with a 1-3 record and 5.23 playoff ERA in 32 postseason innings.
Yet the Yankees offense should be the actual concern, especially facing McKenzie. Cleveland’s No. 2 starter shut the Yankees down, throwing seven one-hit innings in a 2-0 win July 3, and New York is just 1 for 9 with RISP and has just 11 hits in two playoff games.
If Cleveland keeps making contact, and gets spurred on by the raucous crowd, it could feel like a long night for Yankees fans.
Yankees vs Guardians Game 3 Best Bet
Guardians Moneyline (+102) at FanDuel Sportsbook
Wager: 1 Unit
The Yankees may win the series, especially if their pitching continues to be good and Aaron Judge starts to hit like the AL MVP he’ll likely be. But given the odds, the pitching matchup and the fact Progressive Field will be rocking Saturday night, I like Cleveland to send New York to the brink of elimination.
Under 7 Runs (-120) at FanDuel Sportsbook
Wager: 1 Unit
There have been 11 runs in two games in the series. The Yankees offense is struggling, but their starting pitching has carried them all season anyway, and Severino has been great.
McKenzie has surrendered just nine hits and two runs in his past 17 innings yet has not gotten a decision in those three outings due to the scuffling Cleveland offense.
All that suggests bettors should mash the under in Game 3.
Yankees vs Guardians Game 3 Props
Guardians Win By 1-3 Runs (+150) at FanDuel Sportsbook
Wager: 1 Unit
Cleveland would seem to have found its run-scoring formula in the 10th inning of Game 2 by putting up three hits and two runs and taking advantage of a Yankees error.
The normally sure-handed Yankees have committed three errors through two games. If they continue to give Cleveland extra outs you’d have to think it’ll keep making New York pay.
It’s hard to believe Cleveland will do enough to blow a team like the Yankees out, so if you think it’ll win it is likely to do so in a close, low-scoring game. This prop is the perfect bet for that prediction.
Yankees vs Guardians Game 2 Prediction
Yankees 4, Guardians 3
Bieber should concern most Yankees fans since he is a bonafide No. 1 starter throwing on full rest. Plus, Cortes has been exceptional this season — arguably New York’s ace — but will be making his first postseason start.
Still, the Yankees hardly played a clean game in the series opener. They gave the Guardians extra outs, including a third-inning botched rundown that could’ve substantially altered the game.
They made mistakes on the base paths, notably Josh Donaldson‘s brain cramp where he didn’t run out a ball off the wall and was thrown out at first. Plus, Cleveland out-hit the Yankees, six to five.
All that still resulted in a 4-1 Yankees win.
Expect a close, low-scoring game that the Yankees find a way to win late.
Yankees vs Guardians Game 2 Best Bet
Yankees Moneyline (-146) at FanDuel
This will be Bieber’s first major-league start at Yankee Stadium, one of the most raucous atmospheres in baseball that only gets further amped up in October.
Plus, Bieber’s previous numbers against the Yankees aren’t particularly good. He didn’t face New York in 2022 but is 1-1 with a 5.74 ERA in three career outings against the Bombers. That does not include his 4.2-inning, nine-hit, seven-run outing against New York in Game 1 of the 2020 Wild Card round.
Cortes also has an unflappable demeanor that should lend itself to pitching in the postseason. He’s already exceeded expectations by going 12-4 with a 2.44 ERA and 0.92 WHIP in 28 starts. Facing Bieber and Cleveland’s young offense isn’t likely to stress him out.
Yankees vs Guardians Game 2 Props
Yankees Win By 1-3 Runs (+115) at FanDuel
Wager: 1 Unit
Game 2 could get away from Cleveland if Bieber doesn’t pitch well. But in all likelihood, it’ll probably be another close game.
I especially like this prop given the odds. It’s essentially a moneyline wager that produces a plus-money profit as long as the most likely outcome happens.
Josh Donaldson To Hit a Home Run (+450) at FanDuel
Wager: 0.5 Units
Donaldson, for all his baserunning warts, looked locked in in Game 1. He had two hits, including his now-infamous single that he thought left the ballpark, and was on base three times against Cleveland pitching in Game 1.
Plus, Donaldson has good career numbers against Bieber. He’s 3-for-10 with two homers against the Cleveland ace.
Yankees vs Guardians Game 1 Prediction
Yankees 5, Guardians 2
The Yankees went 5-1 against the Guardians this season, with Cole posting incredibly dominant numbers against Cleveland. The Yankees ace was 2-0 with a 1.42 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 12 2/3 innings this season.
Quantrill led Cleveland in wins (15) this season and was solid in his lone start against New York. He allowed three earned runs in 6 1/3 innings getting a no-decision in the Yankees’ 5-4 walk-off win on April 23.
We’ll give Cole the edge because Cleveland’s offense is scuffling entering the ALDS. The Guardians managed just three runs in 23 innings over two games against Tampa Bay — with all coming via home runs.
Cole has been susceptible to home runs this season — he allowed 33, the third-most in the majors. But an ace like Cole is not what you want to see when your offense isn’t right.
Yankees vs Guardians Game 1 Best Bet
Yankees -1.5 (+100) at FanDuel Sportsbook
WAGER: 1 Unit
Cole has extended rest — he’ll have a full week between starts — and has owned Cleveland this season and his career. So the odds are too good to pass up on the run line for Game 1, even given the added risk.
Yankees vs Guardians Game 1 Props
Gerrit Cole Over 6.5 Strikeouts (+102) at FanDuel Sportsbook
Wager: 1 Unit
The Guardians struck out 26 times in 23 innings over two games against Tampa Bay pitching. Cole has seven-plus Ks in eight of his past 10 playoff starts, with two coming against Cleveland. If you think Cole will be good, you should trust him to hit this prop.
Jose Ramirez Home Run (+470) at FanDuel Sportsbook
Wager: 0.5 Units
Cole has been bitten by the long ball this season, and Ramirez has had success off the Yankees ace in the past. Ramirez is 6 for 22 (.273) with two homers off Cole in his career. He also has nine homers in 101 career plate appearances at Yankee Stadium and hit one of Cleveland’s two dingers in its ALWC series win.
Betting any player, even AL home run king Aaron Judge, to homer in a single game is a crapshoot. But if anyone is going to go deep Tuesday it’ll probably be Ramirez.