MLB Odds: Back Blue Jays In AL Rematch Against Royals In Final Meeting Of Season

Matthew Jordan

Sunday, August 7, 2016 1:57 PM UTC

Sunday, Aug. 7, 2016 1:57 PM UTC

Playoff hopeful Toronto and struggling Kansas City meet for the final time this season on Sunday afternoon in a matchup between similar starting pitchers. The visiting Jays are on -135 on BetOnline MLB odds with a total of 8.5 runs.

Toronto Blue Jays vs Kansas City Royals

What You Need To Know
Of course the Blue Jays and Royals met in last year's American League Championship Series, with the Royals winning the clinching Game 6 at home, 4-3. The Blue Jays won two of their three at home but the crushing blow was a 14-2 loss at Rogers Centre in Game 5. The 12-run margin of victory was the largest by a road team in AL postseason history and fourth-largest margin in overall playoff history. Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey started that game for Toronto and didn't even complete two full innings. There will not be a playoff rematch this fall. The Blue Jays definitely could reach the postseason, either by winning the AL East for a second straight year or as a wild-card team. But the Royals are dead in the water.

I believe the Jays made a decision this week that will enhance their playoff chances. On Monday, Toronto acquired pitcher Francisco Liriano from Pittsburgh as well as pitcher Scott Feldman from Houston and Mike Bolsinger from the Los Angeles Dodgers. But the Liriano move was the big one as he was Pittsburgh's Opening Day starter and had been very good for the Bucs in 2013-15. He pitched solidly and took a no-decision in Friday's series opener. Also Monday, the Jays announced they were going to send 24-year-old ace Aaron Sanchez to the bullpen after 1-2 more starts. That despite the fact that Sanchez was 11-1 with an AL-best 2.71 ERA entering Saturday's start vs. the Royals. In Sports Interaction's most recent Cy Young MLB odds on Friday, Sanchez was a third-favorite in the AL at +700 behind the White Sox's Chris Sale (+180) and Rangers' Cole Hamels (+250). Fellow Toronto starter J.A. Happ is +1400.

The Jays wanted to limit Sanchez's innings as he already is past a career high, and his right arm is obviously a huge part of Toronto's future. But on Thursday, general manager Ross Atkins reversed course and said Sanchez would stay in the rotation and the Blue Jays would go to a six-man group. Apparently the other starters all agreed to the move. The Jays will still closely monitor Sanchez and could perhaps skip a start or two or still send him to the bullpen, but his Cy Young chances remain alive and well. The last Blue Jays winner of that award was Roy Halladay in 2003.

Also on Sports Interaction MLB picks, Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson was +500 to win a second straight AL MVP Award. Only one player has gone back-to-back in the AL this century: Detroit's Miguel Cabrera in 2012-13. Donaldson trails the Astros' Jose Altuve (+150) and Angels' Mike Trout (+300) on those odds.


Probable Pitchers
Toronto starts the guy who was supposed to be the ace and who started Opening Day in big right-hander Marcus Stroman (8-4, 4.74). He was very inconsistent the first three months of the season but looked better in July with a 2-0 record and 3.71 ERA in five starts. And Monday in Houston, Stroman was sensational, allowing one run and three hits over seven innings while striking out a career-high 13. Alas, he took a no-decision in a game the Jays would lose 2-1 in 14 innings.

The 25-year-old Stroman beat visiting Kansas City on July 6, allowing two runs and three hits over eight innings with six strikeouts. Stroman was perfect through five innings but leadoff hitter Brett Eibner walked to open the sixth and then Alcides Escobar broke up the no-hitter with an RBI triple. The Royals' Eric Hosmer is 2-for-6 career off Stroman. Kendrys Morales is 2-for-3 with a double.

The Royals go with 25-year-old right-hander Yordano Ventura (6-9, 4.83). Like Stroman, he can bring the heat but also be wild at times as Ventura has walked 50 batters in his 21 starts. The Royals had lost six straight of his starts but won Tuesday in Tampa Bay as Ventura allowed two runs and six hits with four walks over five innings. He took a no-decision and hasn't won since June 17.

Ventura hasn't faced Toronto this season. Last regular season, he gave up five runs in seven innings in his lone start against the Jays and got the win. Jose Bautista is 3-for-5 career off him with a homer. Donaldson is 1-for-6 with a home run. Edwin Encarnacion is 1-for-3 with two walks.

Toronto is 10-4 in Stroman's past 14 vs. teams with a losing record. The Royals are 0-4 in Ventura's past four vs. teams with a winning record. The 'under' is 4-1 in Ventura's past five. It is 4-0 in Stroman's past four vs. the AL Central.


Free MLB Picks: Blue Jays -150 and Under 8.5 -121 
Best Line Offered: Blue Jays -150 at 5Dimes and Under 8.5 -121 at Pinnacle

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