Toronto Blue Jays vs Cleveland Indians - Friday Night's MLB Pick

Estrada pitching

Thursday, October 13, 2016 3:45 PM GMT

Neither the Blue Jays nor the Indians were supposed to reach the ALCS, yet here they are and here we are with a free baseball pick for the series opener.

Season: 43-44 (+1.6); Postseason: 0-4 (-4.1)

You can bet the networks got the exact opposite matchup for the ALCS than what was hoped from in the division series matchups. A Boston-Texas battle would have far more national appeal, but count me among those loving how it turned out as the Toronto Blue Jays and Cleveland Indians will instead decide who is called 2016 American League Champions.

They crank things up Friday with TBS beginning coverage at 8 PM (ET) from Progressive Field. Intertops, one of the best sportsbooks online, was among the first to post numbers, sending Corey Kluber and the Indians out as -130 favorites in the duel with Toronto's Marco Estrada. It's 7½ for you scoreboard bettors, priced evenly high and low.


Underdog In Opener, Toronto Favored In Series


Both squads qualify as surprises to make it this far having been given up on at some point or another during the regular season. Toronto's chances looked cooked twice in the final five weeks, suffering through a 4-10 stretch from late-August to mid-September, then going 1-4 to begin the final week before pulling off two 1-run wins at the end in Boston.

When Cleveland lost Carlos Carrasco early and Danny Salazar plus Carrasco again late, we all questioned the depth of that rotation. It doesn't look like Salazar will be able to make it back for this showdown, so it's still iffy behind Kluber with Josh Tomlin and Trevor Bauer, the former pitching well over the final five weeks and the latter, well, not so well.

Both still pulled off ALDS sweeps as underdogs, Toronto getting to that level after a 5-2 walk-off in extras over the Orioles in the AL Wild Card Game. Edwin Encarnacion hit the game-winner and has been on fire in the playoffs after closing the year a bit slow. Jose Ramirez, Jason Kipnis, and Lonnie Chisenhall provided the offense in the Tribe's broom job vs. Boston, but it was the bullpen duo of Andrew Miller and Cody Allen that shined brightest.

Compare 2016 World Series Futures At SBR


Both Hurlers Off Impressive ALDS Performances


It's easy to overlook Estrada's importance to the Jays during the regular season with a 9-9 record in 29 starts. Still, he gets the call for Game 1 in front of both JA Happ (20-4) and Aaron Sanchez (15-2) plus Marcus Stroman who beat Baltimore in the wild-card thriller. Estrada closed the year in good form, then tied Texas hitters up in the ALDS opener on the road as a small underdog on the MLB odds. He saw the Indians once this year in Toronto on July 2 with so-so results (5 IP, 3 ER, 2 HR); that was the first time he'd faced them, and this is his first career appearance in Cleveland.

Kluber turned into an ATM from the end of July on with Cleveland winning 12 of his last 13 assignments, including the ALDS Game 2 gem over the Red Sox. He looked terrible in Toronto in a 17-1 loss to the Jays in early-July, chased in the fourth having been charged with five runs, but came back with a nice no-decision (6.2 IP, 2 ER) in a 3-2 win for the Tribe at home in August.

It's the first time the two have met in the postseason, and their regular season matchups recently have been pretty even with neither side having a huge home-field advantage. Two of the three games in Cleveland during August stayed 'under' with the totals splitting the 4-game July set on the Canadian side of the border.

Everything looks good on the weather front for the first two games, Friday's game played under clear skies with a 1st-pitch temp around 60º and 10-15 mph SE breeze (right to left). I just like the vibe around Toronto right now, and that makes for an easy free baseball pick on the underdogs.

Free MLB Pick: Blue Jays +120

Best Line Offered: at Intertops

[/]{"component":"oddswidget", "eventId":3099393, "sportsbooksIds":[180,238,19,349,93], "LineTypeId":2, "PeriodTypeId":1 }[/]

[/]{"component":"video", "type":"youtube", "url":"https://www.youtube.com/embed/klb0-FcS52k", "videoSize":"Large" }[/]