Toronto is in the playoffs, but still shooting for home-field advantage; Tampa, meanwhile, would probably love to play spoiler. Which way are we going with our free MLB picks on Friday?
Blue Jays vs. Rays Friday Odds
As of this writing the MLB odds market was holding off on lining this game, presumably because Toronto has rested many of its regulars over the last couple of days, and supposedly could do so again. But the Jays are still in the race for home-field advantage in the upcoming American League playoffs, and our guess is they'll go with their regular lineup tonight. To be safe, bettors might be wise to check the lineup cards before getting down on this game.
Toronto just split four games at Baltimore this week, losing the series finale Thursday 6-4.
The Blue Jays have already clinched the AL East title, cashing in at odds of 7/2 on the preseason MLB futures boards. But they're also locked in a tie with Kansas City for the best record in the American League, and home-field advantage in the playoffs that comes with it. Toronto rested starters Thursday, but is expected to go at full-strength today.
Tampa, meanwhile, just swept three games from Miami this week, winning Thursday 4-1.
At 78-81 the Rays need two wins in these last three games to play OVER their season wins betting total of 79, and a sweep to finish at .500 for the season.
These division rivals have split 16 games this season, with the UNDERS going 9-4-3.
Friday's Mound Match-Up
Ramirez (11-6, 3.65), by our strict standards, is just nine-for-26 on quality starts this season, but three for his last three. Eight days ago he held Boston to two runs through seven innings, and over his last three starts he's held foes to four runs through 21 2/3 innings.
Tampa is 15-11 in Ramirez' starts this year, with the UNDERS going 14-10.
Ramirez has started three times against Toronto this season; in the first start he got bombed for nine runs in less than four innings, but over the last two outings he held the Jays to two runs through 8 2/3 innings. The Rays won two of those three games.
Buehrle (14-7, 3.76) is 17-for-30 on quality starts, but by our tough count 0 for his last four. Last Sunday he gave up four runs in six innings against this Tampa lineup, and over his last four starts he's allowed 13 ER through 20 1/3 innings.
The Jays are 17-13 in Buehrle's starts, with the OVERS going 16-11.
In three starts this year against Tampa Buehrle has been touched for 12 runs and 25 hits through 17 2/3 innings; thanks to some nice run support Toronto won two of those games.
Friday's Batting Splits
Toronto ranks No. 1 in the Majors this year against right-handed pitching with a .335 team on-base percentage, and second with a .454 team slugging percentage.
Tampa, on the other hand, ranks 10th against left-handed pitching with a .323 team OBP and third with a .434 team slugging percentage.
Ballpark Totals Factor
Games played at the Trop this season are 39-33 on the OVERS, even though they're averaging just 7.6 runs per, fourth-fewest among all ML ballparks. Obviously, oddsmakers have been posting some low totals on Rays home games.
Jays-Rays Free Picks
We'll give Ramirez the edge in the pitching match-up, based on recent performance, but Toronto, as long as it goes with its regular lineup, owns an edge with the sticks. Bottom line, we think the Jays might want this one a little more. Also, this series has skewed UNDER this season, and we can go along with that. So for our free MLB picks on this game we like the Blue Jays and the UNDER.
MLB Picks: Toronto -115 & UNDER 7.5 at Bet365