It's Jays Over Rays in AL East Series Opener

Doug Upstone

Thursday, April 6, 2017 3:24 PM UTC

Thursday, Apr. 6, 2017 3:24 PM UTC

After being swept in a two-game series in Baltimore, Toronto heads to Tampa Bay to open a four-game series on Thursday. Those betting baseball are looking for more runs from the Blue Jays.

MLB season record: 1-2 (-1.25)

Tampa Bay took its first series against the New York Yankees and is seeking to make the most of this opening homestand after being 36-45 (-15.9 units) last season in St. Petersburg. Let's dig into the details for the Rays' series opener vs. the Blue Jays on Thursday.

Pitching Matchup: Stroman Vs. Snell

At 5-foot-8, Marcus Stroman is not going to create the leverage of say a Chris Sale and blow hitters away. Yet Toronto's right-hander has enough velocity and has developed several pitches, mostly to induce ground balls, but has re-worked his cutter to get more swing and misses when the batter has two strikes. Despite his diminutive stature, Stroman has adjusted his pitching style to go deeper in the game and become more effective. He has not enjoyed much success against Tampa Bay with 3-4 record and 4.84 ERA.

Rays lefty Blake Snell showed much promise in his rookie campaign, with a darting 94 mph fastball and a wicked slider. As effective as he could be from hitter to hitter, Snell did not always know where those pitches were going, thus opposing teams quickly learned if he's missing the strike zone, then be patient and take the walk or wait until he grooves one down the middle when behind in the count. This is big year for Snell to prove he's Tampa Bay's next ace in the making. he split two games with Toronto last year, winning at home.


Jays' Offense Must Heat Up & Rays' Has To Be Consistent

Scoring three runs in two games is not going to endure to those making MLB picks, but that is what the Blue Jays have done in 21 innings. To this point Toronto is not getting the key hit, which is why the Jays have left 19 men on base. Thus far the middle of the order hitters, Jose Bautista, Kendrys Morales and Troy Tulowitzki, are a combined 0-for-26.

Tampa Bay's offense is not going to lead the AL in runs scored, but the hitters have to be efficient. Though they took series over Yankees, the free-swinging Rays had 28 strikeouts, which this early suggests they have not changed much after leading the league in punch-outs last season. Making contact can lead to moving base runners or even errors by the opposition.


Betting Odds, History & Bullpen Numbers

The opening MLB odds had Toronto at -130, however, most sportsbooks are now around -120 with a total at 8. Tampa Bay has won 11 of the 19 games played at the Trop the last two years in this series, and the total could hardly be any more even at 8-8-3. Both bullpens have gotten off to sensational starts, with ERAs under 1.60.


The Winner Is ...

Toronto looks out of sorts to start the season, but this is still a good club and all it could take is one hit from the middle of the order -- and all the sudden the offense breaks open. With the Blue Jays 12-2 on the road after two or more defeats, I will call for them to break into win column.

Free MLB Pick: Blue Jays -125Best Line Offered: 5Dimes

​​​​​​​[/]{"component":"oddswidget", "eventId":3140864, "sportsbooksIds":[19,169,93,1275,123], "LineTypeId":1, "PeriodTypeId":1 }[/]

comment here