The Blue Jays are on a roll, having just swept the Angels, and now they head to Arlington to take on the Rangers. The MLB odds are firmly on their side for the series opener.
Even though the Rangers are the home team, it's the red-hot Blue Jays that have been classified as the MLB odds favorites to secure the victory. They're in the -130 to -135 range to win, which leaves Texas at approximately +125 to win.
Playing in the hot Arlington atmosphere tends to result in a lot of high-scoring games, and oddsmakers think that's what we'll see again this evening; the O/U is currently trading at nine runs.
Texas Rangers (Holland)
Don't look now but the Rangers have made up a ton of ground and all of a sudden find themselves in the thick of the playoff race. They've won three in a row and are an excellent 9-2 over their last 11 games overall, which has vaulted them to 64-59 overall. That's good for second place in the AL West, and they're now only three and a half games back of the Houston Astros for the top spot.
Texas just took three of four games in Detroit and now returns home, and it'll be up to left-hander Derek Holland to keep the momentum going. Holland just returned from a lengthy injury absence and was pretty solid, going 6 and 1/3 innings and allowing eight hits and two runs (with six strikeouts) in a 7-2 home win over Seattle.
When healthy, Holland has proven he can be an effective starter at the major league level, so the Rangers will be hoping he can avoid the disabled list for the rest of the season and help the team make the playoffs. This is a pretty darn tough second assignment for Holland however, up against a team that mashes left-handed pitching in Toronto.
Toronto Blue Jays (Buehrle)
Like the Rangers, the Blue Jays are on a nice little roll too. They just totally crushed the Angels in a three-game sweep, winning 9-2, 15-3 and 12-5 for a grand total of 36 runs. That's not bad production at the plate.
Toronto is in a heated race in the AL East right now, as they have an identical record to the Yankees at 69-55. Those two teams have pulled away from the pack; they're at least seven games up on the rest of the competition in the division, so we should be seeing either the Blue Jays or Yankees atop the AL East when everything is said and done.
Tonight it'll be another southpaw taking the bump in Mark Buehrle, and he's been very consistent for the team in 2015. He's 13-6 with a 3.45 ERA and 1.18 WHIP, while posting a 6-5 win-loss record with a 3.74 ERA over 13 road starts. August has been more of a struggle for Buehrle, however, as he's gone 2-1 with a 4.32 ERA in four assignments.
This isn't an easy call, but in the end we're going to side with the Blue Jays to win the series opener tonight.
Buehrle was shaky in his latest start, but he had been rock solid prior, and he's already pitched well against the Rangers (7.0 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K) once this season. It's not going to be too easy for either one of these starters in the hot Arlington air, but we've got a bigger sample size out of Buehrle and think we may be better off waiting to see more out of Holland before we put our faith in him.
Meanwhile, that Toronto offense has exploded lately, and Josh Donaldson and company will be feeling good about their chances of keeping it going against a southpaw. With our MLB picks, we're going to add the Blue Jays on a straight moneyline play.
MLB Pick: Toronto Blue Jays -130 at Pinnacle