Free MLB Picks: Blue Jays To Dive Deep & Take Out Rays In Series Openers

Friday, April 29, 2016 12:39 PM GMT

The cold-hitting Blue Jays and Rays clash in their second series of the season in Tampa on Friday night. Need an MLB pick for the game? We got ya covered!

Toronto Blue Jays vs. Tampa Bay Rays

Toronto Blue Jays (10-13) – Aaron Sanchez (1-1, 3.33 ERA)
The Blue Jays are coming off the wrong side of a three-game series sweep by the AL-leading White Sox, where they scored one run in the last 24 innings and struck out 31 times total. Something is not right with the lineup that put up a whopping 5.5 runs per game last season. They are averaging a middling 3.96 runs entering Tampa, and strikeout 9.4 times per game, third most in MLB odds boards.

Can the lineup, armed with a bevy of right-handed power hitters, jumpstart their season against a familiar face in southpaw Drew Smyly? Toronto finished up 2015 winning eight of their final 10 road games against left-handed starters, but are just 1-2 in 2016; the lone victory coming in a 5-3 win over Smyly in the second contest of he season.

Aaron Sanchez gets the nod for skipper John Gibbons. The young sinkerballer is 0-1 with a 1.69 ERA in two career starts against the Rays, though he has made 10 appearances overall with some relief work. Sanchez owns the heart of the Tampa lineup, holding Evan Longoria and Desmond Jennings to one hit each in 11 and seven plate appearances respectively. When teams hold Longoria to a hit or less this season, Tampa crosses the plate just 2.4 times on 6.3 hits per game. The UNDER is 11-2-2 in this situation with the Rays scoring more than three runs just once in 15 games.

In the last calendar year, away from Rogers Centre, the Blue Jays are 12-29 SU as a road dog in games with an over-under below 9 runs. Hits are at a premium for last year’s AL East winners in this situation, slugging 7.7 for 3.8 runs per contest. This line is just about on par with Toronto’s plate success on the road in 2016, scoring 3.5 runs on 7.5 hits per game. The UNDER is 9-1-1 with an average over-under of 8.3 runs in road contests this season.

 

Tampa Bay Rays (10-11) – Drew Smyly (1-2, 2.51 ERA)
Like the Jays, the bats are chilly in Tampa. Despite taking two of three in their last series against the Orioles, the team hit just .180 with 27 strikeout overall. The Rays’ .220 team batting average, in fact, is the lowest in MLB. The lineup benefits from launching bombs in timely spots, though. Its 1.14 home runs per game are 10th most in the bigs.

Smyly is 6-2 with a 2.02 ERA in his last 15 outings against AL East opponents. He is 1-1 with a 2.74 ERA in three lifetime starts against the Jays. Like Sanchez, he has worked a few relief outings against today’s foe for six appearances overall.

Toronto hits Smyly for a .259 average with most of the damage coming from Josh Donaldson. The reigning AL MVP is six for 11 against the southpaw with two homers, two doubles, and three RBIs. The Jays are 63-26 SU when Donaldson collects an extra-base hit, scoring 6.4 runs per game.

 

Final Thoughts
Sanchez earned seven quality starts in a row before the Athletics shelled him last time out for six earned runs on 10 hits in 4.1 frames. It was his worst career start. There is no better remedy from a bad outing than to face off against MLB’s worst hitting team. Despite the Jays’ dismal road record as dogs of late, we like the value with them here having roughed up Smyly earlier in the season. We expect a one-run game either way, but can't pass up the plus-money on Toronto in this MLB picks. And if you're interested in boosting your balance further before the weekend starts, take a look at these valuable O/U MLB picks.

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Free MLB Pick: Toronto Blue Jays +112
Best Line Offered: at Heritage