A true Opening Day is finally upon us, and the 2021 MLB betting campaign comes out of the chute with a sild matchup between AL East contenders as the Toronto Blue Jays travel to meet the New York Yankees.
Toronto Blue Jays vs. New York Yankees
Thursday, April 1, 2021 – 1:05 PM ET at Yankee Stadium
Our final preseason check of baseball futures finds both Toronto and New York high up on the list of playoff favorites. The Yankees are +550 to win their 28th World Series title and +250 to claim a 41st American League Pennant. A +1600 choice to win the Fall Classic, the Blue Jays are +800 to represent the AL in the World Series. New York leads the AL East Division as a chalky -165 wager with Toronto next at +325. The Tampa Bay Rays are a close third behind the Yankees and Blue Jays, pointing to a close race the entire summer.
Jays 9-4 with Ryu on Hill in 2020
This one begins a full schedule of Opening Day action, and is one of four games set to be televised by ESPN. Toronto trots Hyun-Jin Ryu (0-0, 0.00) out to the Bronx bump opposite New York’s Gerrit Cole (0-0, 0.00), with online betting sites favoring the Yankees on moneylines in the -170 to -180 range. Two of the deeper lineups in the American League are calling for an 7.5-run total at most outlets.
Ryu will be making his third consecutive Opening Day start, and is coming off a solid showing during the truncated 2020 campaign during which he ranked fourth among AL pitchers with a 2.69 ERA. That mark covers 13 starts, one of which came in Toronto’s short-lived postseason, and the southpaw took on the Yankees twice. The Blue Jays won both of those contests while Ryu tallied 12 innings and allowed five earned runs. He has made just one start at Yankee Stadium, during his 2013 rookie season (6 IP, 3 ER), and New York’s Jay Bruce has had the most success against Ryu over the years (4-11, 2 HR).
Though he made 15 appearances for New York last season, including the playoffs, this will in many ways be Cole’s Yankees home debut since roughly 10,000 fans are expected to be on hand. Cole closed the 2020 regular season with a pair of winning starts against the Blue Jays, working seven innings and allowing one earned run in each assignment. The Yankees went 4-2 in his home starts a year ago.
Big Bats Will be Missing on Both Sides
As mentioned, these are among the top groups of batsmen in the majors, which should prompt MLB lines to carry higher totals on a general basis. Toronto closed 2020 on a 6-3 O/U streak with totals as high as 11 during that stretch. New York finished the regular season 9-3 O/U before a 5-2 O/U mark in the playoffs.
Each lineup will be minus key contributors for Thursday’s tilt, however, starting with George Springer for the Blue Jays. Toronto inked the 31-year-old outfielder to a big free agent contract during the winter, but Springer has been battling an oblique issue all spring and is officially listed as doubtful for Opening Day.
Luke Voit will be absent for the Yankees after having surgery on his left knee. He led all of baseball with 22 HR last season, and is expected to be sidelined into early-May. It remains to be seen if manager Aaron Boone will turn to the left-handed hitting Bruce against Ryu, or shift things around to get more right-handed hitters into the mix. New York will also be without closer Aroldis Chapman until Sunday while he serves a suspension.
Clubs Split 10 Games Last Season
New York has a 365-296 advantage over the course of the rivalry, coming out on top in nearly 60% (195-135) of the matchups played in the Big Apple. The 2020 slate found the teams playing only 10 times, the teams halving those contests will all of Toronto’s triumphs coming as the home team.
All three contests last year that were played in the Bronx went to the Yankees. Since the start of the 2018 campaign, New York has dominated on its home diamond by winning 17 of the 22 games at Yankee Stadium. The ‘over’ prevailed in all three games at Yankee Stadium last season, with seven of the 10 between the two overall also going past the totals.
Playing Toronto in all 10 meetings during the 2020 schedule would have netted baseball bettors a modest 2.3 units of profit. Most of that black ink came in the final 4-game set in Buffalo, where the Blue Jays played home games during the pandemic. These two sides have averaged nearly 12 RPG in their last 12 matchups in New York, but with temps in the 40s and a strong NW breeze (in from left), my free MLB pick will be on the final falling short.
*The pick reflects the line at the moment the writer made the play, the odds at the beginning of this article show the live line movement. Since the lines might vary, don’t forget to refer back to our live odds.