One of only seven remaining interleague series on the regular season slate, the Blue Jays visit the Braves on Tuesday and we've got a free MLB pick on the series opener.
They played one of the most memorable Game 6's in World Series history, an extra inning affair that catapulted the Toronto Blue Jays to their first of back-to-back titles. Now, even though the Atlanta Braves are winding down a most forgettable season, their interleague matchup with the Blue Jays still holds a lot of prominence in this year's playoff races.
The only interleague series going the first half of the Week 24 schedule, the set gets underway Tuesday in Atlanta with the first of three interesting mound duels. Julio Teheran is scheduled to hurl the first pitch at 7:10 PM (ET) for the Braves, Mark Buehrle his counterpart on the Toronto side. The Blue Jays are chalked up in the -170s on SBR's live MLB odds, BetOnline showing an 8½ run total priced -120 on the 'under.'
The 38th meeting between the clubs since their collision in the 1991 Fall Classic, Atlanta holds the slimmest possible lead with 19 victories. Toronto had control of the series early on by winning 14 of the first 21 get-togethers before the Braves took charge and won 12 of the last 16. That includes taking two of three in Toronto about five months ago, though we know this is an entirely different Blue Jays squad now.
They split a 2-game set in Atlanta a little more than two years ago, the totals also halving. 'Over' bettors cashed twice when the teams met in April at Rogers Centre, and both sides have slight 'over' leans for 2015, Toronto 69-66-8 O/U/P while the Braves are 75-60-7.
Jays Looking To Stretch AL East Lead
A game under .500 after a July 28 loss to the Phillies, Toronto (82-61, +9.7 units) caught fire at that point to the tune of a 32-10 record since. The Blue Jays made a big statement over the weekend in the Bronx by taking three of four from the Yankees to begin this series with a 3-game lead in the AL East.
A big part of their surge is an offense that leads the majors in scoring, home runs and OPS, but the pitching has stepped up when needed. The starting rotation has three solid vets at the top in David Price, RA Dickey and Mark Buehrle while Marco Estrada is also quietly enjoying a fine season. The arms will have to step up even more now with shortstop Troy Tulowitzki likely lost for the rest of the regular season with a cracked shoulder blade.
Buehrle was given a couple of days of extra rest since getting lit up by the Red Sox last week in Boston. The Blue Jays are 2-2 in his interleague starts this season, Buehrle pitching to a 2.42 ERA in the combined 26 innings. He beat the Braves two years ago in Toronto (6 IP, 1 ER), but has struggled historically against several of their batters such as Nick Markakis (22-49, 2 HR) and AJ Pierzynski (10-25).
Braves In 3-24 Tailspin As Season Winds Down
Only the Oakland A's have cost baseball bettors more money than Atlanta (56-88, -23.0 units) this year, and things have really gone downhill over the last month. The Braves have managed just three wins in their last 27 games, only one of those against 12 losses coming at home. A huge issue has been a bullpen that ranks last in the majors with a 4.82 ERA with an MLB-high 24 blown save opportunities.
Teheran owns two of the last three Atlanta wins, and is coming off a gem in Philadelphia last Wednesday (7 IP, 4 H, 1 R). He got bombed for four homers in five innings against the Blue Jays back in April, the first and only time Teheran faced Toronto, two of the blasts by Russell Martin who is 4-for-8 lifetime vs. the righthander.
Nothing in the weather forecast will keep this game from being played, and I also seen nothing that says we should back the Braves. Still, Buehrle's recent form doesn't breed confidence in laying -170, so I'm getting behind the bats with my free MLB picks.
My pick: Blue-Jays-Braves Over 8½ (+100) @ BetOnline
Season: 82-78-4 (+4.50)