Free MLB Picks: Blue Jays Heavy Chalk Against Red Hot Orioles

Saturday, June 11, 2016 11:00 AM GMT

J.A.Happ and the Blue Jays hope to gain ground on the AL East-leading Orioles today with Mike Wright on the hill for the birds. Need an MLB Pick for the affair? We got you covered. 

Baltimore Orioles (36-24) & Mike Wright (3-3, 5.14 ERA)
Despite losing 4-3 in 10 innings last night, the Orioles maintain a one-game lead over the Red Sox in the AL East—the Blue Jays sit third 4 1/2 games out. Baltimore is 8-2 in its last 10 games.

Skipper Buck Showalter calls on fireballer Mike Wright for today's contest. The 6-foot-6 right-hander is 0-3 in three career starts against Toronto, earning an abysmal 7.11 ERA. The current Jays roster owns a .349 batting average and 1.063 OPS against him. Big hitters Jose Bautista, Justin Smoak, and Edwin Encarnacion, who snapped a 0-19 funk with a walk-off homer in last night's win, are a combined 8 for 17 with five extra base hits.

The poor record against the Jays is part of a larger trend where Wright suffers against divisional foes. In a little more than one year of MLB service, he has allowed 31 earned runs in 26 frames against AL East teams. The O’s are 2-5 in these outings, yielding 6.1 runs on 10.6 hits per game. Wright has only put in one quality start, chased by the fifth inning in all but two of the outings.

Perhaps Wright's fortunes turn this afternoon. Showalter’s men have won his last five starts, supporting the No. 4 starter with 8.2 runs per contest during this span. Wright tossed a gem last time out, allowing no runs on five hits in seven innings of service.

Opening at +140 for today’s matchup, Baltimore has allowed four or more runs in 14 of 18 contests as a road dog this season. The Jays are 13-5 SU when scoring four or more at Rogers Centre, winning by an average of 1.9 runs.

Showalter’s management of his relievers thus far is remarkable. The bullpen’s 2.61 ERA is the lowest in MLB, and they own the best record at 18-4 as well.


 

Toronto Blue Jays (33-30) & J.A. Happ (6-3, 3.57 ERA)
Toronto can not find consistency this season, but has clawed its way within striking distance of the division lead. Manager John Gibbons squad has won six of its last eight at the Rogers Centre. Tied 1-1 with Baltimore in this critical four-game home stand, the former MLB catcher turns to J.A. Happ to get the job done today.

The UNDER is 6-0 in Happ’s six career starts versus the O’s with Toronto, the two teams combining for 5.0 runs per game. The Jays fail to give the journeyman much run support, crossing the plate for one or fewer runs in four of the outings. Happ and the bullpen have held the hard-hitting lineup to fewer than 10 hits in each game, allowing just one dinger overall. Overall, he is 2-3 against Baltimore in eight career starts.

Only one hitter in the O's lineup has a career average of .300 versus Happ, designated hitter Pedro Alvarez who is 3 for 7 with a double and two strikeouts. Adam Jones is a respectable 7 for 25 lifetime, while phenom Manny Machado has just three hits in 15 plate appearances. Baltimore has had a tough time seeing the left-hander. Happ, who owns a 7.5 K/9 career rate, sits down one in every 3.1 batters on Showalter's roster.

 

Final Analysis
The O’s have to slug their way to victory, especially on the road with their less-than-stellar rotation. In games where they score four runs or fewer away from Camden Yards, they are just 2-13 on the year, 9-0 when belting in five or more. Happ pitches well in Toronto, he and the pen gifting more than four runs in just three of his last 22 starts at Rogers Centre.

We like the Jays in this spot, but the -150 offered on the MLB Odds is a bit too much juice for us to lay here. We'll take a stab at the run line, thinking the Jays get to Wright early and often. Tread carefully though, as all five of the meetings between these two this season have been decided by one run or less. Blue Jays (-1.5) +135 is the free MLB Pick.

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Free MLB Pick:  Blue Jays -1½ +135
Best Line Offered:  at Heritage