The New York Yankees (76-73) bagged another win on Saturday night, refusing to go away quietly despite having a mountain to climb in the AL Wild Card race. The Bombers will go for a road sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates (69-80) on Sunday afternoon, with first pitch from PNC Park set for 1:35 p.m. ET. Lefty Carlos Rodon (3-5, 6.14 ERA) will look to build on an encouraging last start for New York, while the Bucs will send reliever Colin Selby (2-1, 8.20) to the mound as an opener today.
The Yankees are still six games back of the third and final Wild Card spot with just 13 games remaining, but New York has won three in a row and looks to be playing much better baseball since calling up a slew of young prospects at the start of September. They’ll head back home for a three-game series against the Blue Jays next week that could really jumpstart their playoff hopes.
New York enters as -148 favorites on the moneyline at DraftKings Sportsbook, with the Pirates at +124. The run total is set at 8.
Yankees-Pirates picks: Sunday, September 17
Out: OF Jasson Domínguez (elbow), RP Ian Hamilton (right groin strain), RP Keynan Middleton (right shoulder inflammation)
Out: SS Oneil Cruz (leg), OF Andrew McCutchen (Achilles)
Carlos Rodon vs. Colin Selby
It’s been largely a debut season to forget for Rodon in New York — he gave up seven runs on eight hits against the Tigers two starts ago, drawing boos from the Yankee Stadium crowd — but the Yankees’ high-priced lefty showed signs of life last time out. Rodon changed up his pitch mix, incorporating his curveball and changeup more in addition to his signature fastball/slider combo, and some eye-popping results followed: nine Ks in five innings of one-run ball against the Red Sox at Fenway Park, with a whopping 16 swinging strikes. Granted, we’ve seen these flashes before, and Rodon’s fastball velocity has fluctuated on a start-to-start basis. If he’s the same guy on Sunday, though, it could be a great springboard toward a (hopefully) healthy 2024.
Selby will be making his 17th appearance and fifth start for Pittsburgh this season, most recently giving up a run on two hits while striking out the side in the first inning against the Nationals earlier this week. He’s yet to go more than two innings in any of those starts, though, so this is figuring to be a bullpen game for the Bucs — with righty Andre Jackson (10.80 ERA over two outings in September) the most likely bulk candidate.
The first two games of this series totaled 12 and nine runs, respectively, but I’m backing the under in this spot. This is largely a bet on Rodon: The lefty looked as explosive as he has all year last weekend at Fenway Park, showing a new pitch mix that left Red Sox hitters flailing. We’re still waiting on consistency from the All-Star, but I think unlocked something last time out and will pitch well again. That means the Yankees will be responsible for most of this total, and they’re slashing a dismal .195/.292/.346 as a team this month.
Pick: Under 8
I tipped my hand here already, but I’m a believer in Rodon in this spot; he’s obviously got far, far more upside than Selby and (presumably) Jackson on the other side, and if New York can get him a little early run support this afternoon, they should bag another win — and delay their elimination for at least one more day.
Pick: Yankees -148