The Blue Jays & Yankees are in a spirited race for the AL East championship & the Red Sox can play spoiler to either. Let’s see what happens on Labor Day at Fenway Park with the Jays in town.
The Blue Jays continue to climb up the charts, now 78-58 on the season. Toronto has done something very special and rare in Major League Baseball, something which hasn’t been done in 11 years. In 2004, the Houston Astros had a losing record just after the All-Star break but then took off and reached the 20-games-over-.500 mark. The Blue Jays this year have done the same thing. This team exploded once it acquired both Troy Tulowitzki and David Price in the deals that have transformed the organization and have made this team extremely dangerous. The Blue Jays continue to win series. They did so against Baltimore over the weekend. They did so against Cleveland earlier last week. They did so against Detroit the previous weekend, and against Texas the week before that. This team just keeps winning at a steady pace, and that’s something a bettor certainly respects.
The complication here is that the Red Sox are also playing good baseball. It’s true that they lost a series to the Yankees in the middle of last week, but before that, they won a series against the New York Mets, the leaders of the National League East. After their Yankees series, they regrouped and swept the Philadelphia Phillies, so even though they’re out of playoff contention, they’re playing hard, chiefly because their manager, John Farrell, has cancer, but also because new team president Dave Dombrowski is evaluating everyone with next season in mind. Guys know that jobs for 2016 are at stake.
With Mark Buehrle on the mound, the Blue Jays have a starting pitcher who is fairly consistent, but not at the highest end of the spectrum in terms of performance. Buehrle is consistent in that he generally gives up two to four runs per start – occasionally one or five, but usually two to four. In his last 10 starts, Buehrle’s given up two runs three times and four runs three times. He’s given up three runs twice, five runs once, and one run once. He does usually pitch into the seventh inning, though, which is perhaps his best quality, saving stress and strain on the Toronto bullpen. The thing about Buehrle, with a 3.53 ERA and 1.18 WHIP, is that if you put him against an equally talented or productive pitcher, he’s in good shape, because Toronto has the highest-scoring offense in baseball to back him up. If you put him up against an ace, though, the Jays are at risk of losing a 4-2 kind of game.
So, which pitcher does Boston send to the bump in this game? Rick Porcello, who has a 5.21 ERA and a 1.36 WHIP. Porcello has had a bad year, as his stats indicate, but the tricky thing about him is that he’s still capable of dominating at times. He threw a seven-inning shutout on Aug. 26 against the White Sox. On July 24, he gave up one run in seven innings against Detroit. Every now and then he’ll be great, but usually, he’s poor. He’s given up at least six runs in three of his last nine starts, and he’s given up at least three runs in seven of his last 10 starts, with only one of those outings going beyond 6 1/3 innings. That’s not good.
What’s The Pick?
Porcello is coming off of back-to-back quality starts where he’s given up just one earn run in his last 15 innings of work. And while the Jays have won four of the last five times Buehrle has started, he’s given up 16 runs and five homers in his last five outings. He has a career 4.24 ERA against the Red Sox. Both teams are playing well but I’m inclined to take a shot with my MLB pick this afternoon on the BoSox as a home dog in this spot.
MLB Pick: Red Sox (+125) at The Greek