Two perceived mediocre pitchers has yielded the highest posted total of these MLB Playoffs so far in Game 3 between the Blue Jays and Rangers Sunday, but is it too high?
A potentially inflated total could give value to the ‘under’ in what is a do-or-die game for the higher seeded road team Sunday night when right-hander Marco Estrada and those Toronto Blue Jays hit the road in a major hole as they pay a visit to southpaw Martin Perez and the Texas Rangers in Game 3 of their ALDS from Globe Life Park in Arlington, TX at 8:05 ET in a game televised nationally on FOX Sports 1, with underdog Texas leading the best-of-five series 2-0.
The posted total at Pinnacle Sports is 9½ for this contest with the current odds on the ‘under’ set at -117.
Rangers Not Playing Like Underdogs
The Blue Jays had the best offense in baseball during the season and they had one of the best pitchers in baseball in David Price set to go in Game 1 of this series as well as in one more game in this series barring a sweep, and furthermore the Rangers were unable to start their ace Cole Hamels in Game 1, so it was understandable that Toronto was a heavily favored MLB pick to win this ALDS in the vicinity of -240 MLB odds before it began.
Apparently the Rangers never got the memo, as they reached Price for five runs in seven innings in Game 1 in Toronto winning 5-3, and may have taken a stranglehold of this series in Game 2 in Canada, tying the game in the eighth inning and then perhaps taking away Toronto’s will with two runs in the 14th inning for the marathon 6-4 triumph that saddened a partisan Blue Jays crowd that had not seen its team reach the playoff since 1993 for a second straight day.
Estrada to Save the Day?
So with their season on the line on the road in Texas and trying to avoid the sweep, the Blue Jays turn to Estrada, who went a commendable 13-8 with a 3.13 ERA and 1.04 WHIP for the year. We have stated several times though that Estrada is not nearly as good as those numbers because his peripherals simply do not support them, as he is a contact pitcher (6.51 strikeouts, 2.73 walks per nine) that escaped with allowing an abnormally low .216 BABIP.
With that being said, Estrada may deserve a little bit of credit for surrendering the lowest opponents’ batting average in the American League after the All-Star break at .183, and he did pitch well in his only start vs. the Rangers this year, albeit while going only six innings, allowing only one run and four hits right here in Arlington. That one run and four hits allowed in six innings is an identical stat line as his only other career start vs. Texas in 2013.
Also, while the Rangers closed the season well and carried that momentum to sweeping the first two games if this series on the road north of the border, they are actually struggling vs. right-handed pitchers over the last 10 games including Game 1 and Game 2, batting just .214 while averaging 3.51 runs against them during this span. So while Estrada has out-performed his sabremetric numbers, he is still capable of limiting major damage in this spot.
Perez Better Late in Year
The southpaw Perez did not make his seasonal debut for the Rangers until July 17th following elbow surgery, and because he was a tad slow rounding into form, his final numbers did not look good at 3-6 with a 4.46 ERA and 1.42 WHIP. However, he did improve as he regained strength in the elbow and thus closed out the season well even while not getting many wins, posting a good 3.38 ERA over his last 11 starts covering 66.2 innings.
So similar to Estrada, Perez may not be the greatest pitcher in the word but he too seems fully capable of getting through this contest relatively unscathed. And Perez has an added advantage because this will be his first ever appearance vs. the Blue Jays, which is something the 24-year-old native of Venezuela can use to his advantage.
Also, the fact that the Toronto offense basically pulverized left-handed pitching all season long has been well chronicled, but the Blue Jays have slowed in that regard batting a more human .250 while averaging just a scant 2.70 runs vs. southpaws over the last 10 games, and now their unfamiliarity with Perez does not help matters.
An ‘under’ History at Globe Life Park
Finally, these teams have become accustomed to playing fairly low scoring games in Arlington with the ‘under’ going 8-2 in the last 10 meetings here. The ‘under’ is also 7-3 in Estrada’s last 10 starts vs. teams with winning records, as well as 19-7 in Perez’s last 26 starts vs. teams with winning records.
So while neither one of these starters will ever be confused with Cy Young, they should both be able to do enough to keep this final total run output in the single-digits, which would be all that is necessary to keep Toronto and Texas ‘under’ this pretty lofty posted total at Globe Life Park in Texas in Game 3 of this ALDS on Sunday.
MLB Pick: Blue Jays, Rangers ‘under’ 9½ (-117)