Sept. 21 MLB Picks and Preview — Toronto Blue Jays (63-91) at New York Yankees (100-55)

(Aaron Judge photo courtesy Andy Marlin/USA TODAY Sports)

This is the full preview(s) as seen on the Winners and Whiners and Stat Salt websites. The confidence rating for all picks on a scale from 1 to 5 is in parentheses.

Note: The 5/5 does NOT represent the best overall pick of the day’s games when there are multiple games, simply the best pick(s) from each individual game.

When and Where: Saturday, Sept. 21. Yankee Stadium, Bronx, N.Y., 1:05 p.m. EDT.

James Paxton looks to continue the best run of his career and be the first Yankees pitcher to win 10 consecutive starts in 40 years as New York looks to further its push to have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs Saturday when it faces the Toronto Blue Jays.

Zeuch tries to beat Yanks for second time in six days

Rookie T.J. Zeuch (1-0, 4.61 ERA) will be making his second major league start and fourth appearance overall since his September call-up, having served as a bulk reliever ahead of opener Wilmer Font on two occasions.

That plan worked for the 24-year-old Sunday in Toronto versus the Yankees as he followed Font and shook off some early jitters to allow three runs over 5 1-3 innings and help the Blue Jays record a 6-4 victory. Zeuch walked three and struck out five in the longest outing of his brief career, throwing 51 of his 89 pitches for strikes.

“When I pitch, not matter what part of the order I’m facing, I want to establish fastball down and away, the sinker is kind of my bread and butter pitch, and work off of that,” Zeuch explained to SportsNet after the win regarding his pitching philosophy. “Then start moving in and out against guys, let the catcher read their swings and myself, I don’t want to say guess, but make an educated guess on when they’re sitting on a pitch.”

Zeuch’s only start came against Boston on Sept. 10 when he allowed a leadoff homer to Mookie Betts and yielded two more runs over 4 1-3 innings before Toronto rallied for a 4-3 victory at home. The right-hander has walked eight in 13 2-3 innings, but Betts home run is the only one allowed.

Rookie Bo Bichette is day-to-day and in the concussion protocol after being hit in the helmet by a pitch during Thursday’s game in Baltimore. The 21-year-old is hitting .311 with 11 homers in 46 games since being promoted.

“He’s not as bad as we thought, but he’s got to be cleared now by MLB,” Jays manager Montoyo told the club’s official website before Friday’s game. “It could be two days, it could be three days, it could be a week or he could be out. So he’s day to day.”

Paxton looking to tear through Jays for second time in seven days

It took Paxton (14-6, 3.88) some time to get going in his first season with the Yankees after being acquired from the Seattle Mariners in the offseason, but the left-hander has poured it on over the final two months of the season as New York tries to pip Houston for the best record in the American League.

Paxton has posted a 2.50 ERA during his winning streak, striking out 61 in 54 innings while holding opponents to a .170 batting average. The British Columbia native is looking to become the first Yankees pitcher to win 10 straight starts since another left-hander, Ron Guidry, reeled off 11 in a row from July 15-Sept. 13, 1979.

His last three wins have been the most impressive of the bunch as Paxton has conceded just one run and eight hits spanning 18 2-3 innings. Paxton labored to a degree against the Blue Jays last Saturday, yielding one run in five innings while throwing 101 pitches in New York’s 13-3 romp.

“I didn’t have a lot in the tank today,” Paxton conceded to The Associated Press, “didn’t have the best stuff, but was able to make pitches when I needed to to get out of innings.”

Four of Paxton’s nine wins during his current run have come on in the Bronx, where he has limited teams to nine runs in 24 innings while fanning 29. The southpaw had allowed 10 runs in nine innings in his other two starts versus Toronto this year and is 4-3 with a 5.07 ERA in nine lifetime matchups — highlighted by his 2018 no-hitter.

Notable Trends

The Yankees are:

  • 39-16 in their last 55 Saturday games.
  • 41-20 in their last 61 during game 2 of a series.
  • 21-7 in their last 28 home games vs. sub-.500 teams.

The Blue Jays are:

  • 5-11 in their last 16 road games.
  • 10-25 in their last 35 road games vs. teams with a home record above .600.
  • 25-50 in their last 74 games vs. above-.500 teams.

*****5-Star Pick*****

Yankees -1.5 runs (-171)

It’s “Big Maple’s” world and we’re just living in it. The belief is Paxton regains the form of the two starts prior to his outing last weekend versus Toronto — which includes an impressive effort versus Texas on Sept. 3 in which he allowed one hit in seven innings — and the Yankees figure out Zeuch from the get-go.

New York is 5-2 at home versus the Jays, who have been pesky in the season series with an 8-9 mark, but look for the Canadian native to shut down Canada’s team.

****4-Star Pick****

Yankees -1.5 runs first 5 innings (-121)

An alternate line courtesy, the hedge is the Yankees offense gets to Zeuch early while Paxton continues his roll. The Yankees have led at the five-inning mark in seven of Paxton’s nine starts during his winning streak and by two or more runs in six of them.

Yankees OVER 1.5 runs first 3 innings (-125)

An anti-Zeuch pick to a degree since he will be facing the top of the New York order unlike last week when he came in after Font. The Yankees have also scored two or more runs in the first three innings in nine of their last 12 games.

***3-Star Pick***

UNDER 9.5 runs (-121)

The under is 5-1 in the last six games between the teams in the Bronx. New York’s dynamic offense makes this a challenging pick despite Paxton’s run — the Yankees have plated seven or more runs in six of Paxton’s last nine wins — but with the expectation the left-hander will pitch deeper into this contest than he did in last Saturday’s win, the under is the play.

Judge to hit HR (+246)

Judge has homered in back-to-back games and is hitting .409 with three homers against the Blue Jays this season. The slugger has 12 homers in his last 24 games, and with a rookie in Zeuch who has not shown much in the way of dominance, it may be time to all rise for a third straight game when he takes one deep.

UNDER 5.5 runs (-115)

This pick is more contingent on Paxton keeping down the Blue Jays with the belief the Yankees offense will knock around Zeuch. The hook helps, but it will be close with New York able to pile up runs.

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