The Blue Jays used their potent sticks to bang out a victory at Tampa Friday night, and this handicapper hopes for more of the same for Saturday.
Blue Jays-Rays Saturday Odds
As of this writing the best MLB odds we could find on Tampa with Chris Archer was the -104 offered at Pinnacle, while Toronto with Marco Estrada was “getting” -101 at 5Dimes.
Toronto took the opener of this series Friday night 8-4, rallying from a 4-1 deficit with four runs in the sixth and three more in the seventh. The victory snapped a two-game losing streak for the Jays, while the loss broke a three-game winning streak for Tampa.
Toronto SS Troy Tulowitzki returned to action after a three-week absence with that shoulder-blade injury, and went two-for-five at the plate. The Jays are now 31-8 with Tulo in the lineup.
At 93-67 the Jays have already won the AL East at odds of around 7/2, and easily played OVER their wins betting OVER/UNDER of 82. They are also tied with Kansas City for the best record in the American League, and they own the head-to-head tiebreaker on the Royals. And thanks to the AL's victory in this year's All-Star game Toronto now finds itself one win away from owning home-field advantage throughout the upcoming playoffs, including in the World Series.
Meanwhile, at 78-82 the Rays needs one more victory to push their season wins betting total of 79, and two to play OVER.
Toronto now leads this season series nine games to eight, with the totals leaning toward the UNDERS by a 9-5-3 margin.
Archer (12-13, 3.26 ERA), by our strict standards, is 18-for-33 on quality starts this season, but coming off his worst outing of the year. One week ago, against this Toronto lineup, he got bombed for nine runs in less than four innings of a 10-8 Tampa defeat. However, over his previous three starts he had held opponents to six runs through 16 innings.
On the season the Rays are 17-16 in Archer's starts, with the OVERS going 17-13.
Archer has already started five times this season against Toronto; the first four starts went very well, as he held the Jays to just three ER through 29 innings; but in that most recent outing, as mentioned above, things went very poorly, as he threw 100 pitches, walked five and gave up two homers all while getting just 11 outs. The Rays won those first three starts against the Blue Jays, but have lost the last two.
Estrada (13-8, 3.15 ERA) is 15-for-27 on quality starts, working on three in a row. Monday he held Baltimore to three runs through 7 1/3 innings, and over his last three starts he's limited foes to five runs through 22 innings.
The Jays are 16-11 in Estrada's starts, with the UNDERS going 15-12.
In two starts this season against Tampa Estrada has been lights out, throwing 16 innings without allowing a run, just five hits, with 15 strikeouts and zero walks; Toronto won both those games, and both games played UNDER.
Saturday's Batting Splits
Toronto ranks No. 1 in the Majors this season against right-handed pitching with both a .335 team on-base percentage and a .456 team slugging percentage.
Tampa, meanwhile, ranks 22nd against righties with a .311 team OBP and 26th with a .392 team slugging percentage.
Ballpark Totals Factor
Games played at the Trop this season are now 40-33 on the OVERS, even though they're only averaging 7.6 runs per, fourth-fewest among all ML ballparks.
Jays-Rays Free Picks
We give Toronto edges in the pitching matchup, with the sticks, in the bullpen and in motivation. So not only are we playing the Jays with our free MLB pick on this contest, we're chase a price on the run line.
MLB Pick: Toronto -1.5 (+150) on the run line at Heritage