Every year, they say the Toronto Blue Jays are the hot MLB pick. But once again, the Blue Jays find themselves in the red going into Thursday's battle with the Houston Astros.
Jason's 2015 record as of May 13: 19-11, plus-7.93 units ML; 0-2, minus-2.05 units Total
Once upon a time, in a magical land up north, there lived a baseball team called the Toronto Blue Jays. They were the best team in all the land, so good that they won back-to-back World Series championships. Things just haven't been the same; the Blue Jays have yet to make the playoffs since winning that last title in 1993. And yet hope springs eternal. Despite two decades of frustration, the Jays were 25-1 third-tier contenders heading into the 2015 campaign.
So here we are again with the Jays (17-18, minus-1.84 units) hovering around the .500 mark, and falling to 33-1 on the MLB betting odds list in the process. Toronto will try to even its record Thursday night (8:10 p.m. ET) at the expense of the Houston Astros, who are still the only team with a winning record in the AL West at 21-13 (plus-8.06 units) after losing six of their last nine games.
The Stroman Argument
Baseball teams have made some huge strides over the past 20 years when it comes to assembling rosters and executing smart game plans. It's becoming more and more important to have good luck in the health department if you want to make the playoffs – after that, anyone can win the World Series. Even the expansion Miami (then-Florida) Marlins and Arizona Diamondbacks have done it.
Toronto has not had very good luck with injuries for some time. Things have already gone pear-shaped this year with the loss of Marcus Stroman (2.84 FIP in 2014) for the season; you can add Jose Reyes (3.4 WAR in 2014) to the injury pile, along with new arrival Michael Saunders (2.0 WAR in 78 games with the Seattle Mariners). But it's mostly Stroman the Jays are missing now. They're No. 29 in the majors in pitching this year at plus-0.5 WAR, compared to third overall in hitting at plus-7.2 WAR.
At least it will be Toronto's best remaining pitcher taking the mound on Thursday. Drew Hutchison (4.67 FIP) isn't living up to the standard he set last year, his first full season in the bigs, when he posted a 3.85 FIP and 2.3 WAR. This year, Hutchison's numbers are down across the board – except on the MLB money charts, where Toronto's bats have lifted their comrade to 2.82 units in earnings on a team record of 5-2. Getting 7.86 runs of support per game will do that for you.
How Old Do You Think I Am?
The Astros respond with Roberto Hernandez (4.28 FIP), who's on his third team in three years, and is still trying to find his groove at minus-1.42 units on a team record of 2-4. You may remember Hernandez by his former name, Fausto Carmona, which turned out to be part of a visa scam – he lied about his age, go figure. And what a shock: His fastball has dipped all the way to 88.9 mph this year.
Houston still ranks No. 10 in hitting this year at plus-4.5 WAR, so times are pretty good considering the Astros were 50-1 to win the World Series. But looking specifically at the past 14 days, Houston has fallen all the way to No. 25 overall, posting a tiny .638 team OPS. Looks like we'll be loading up on Jays bats for our next segment.
Have you got OF Jose Bautista on your team? Not that you wouldn't just auto-play him every day, but if you've got Joey Bats, he's 6-for-15 lifetime against Hernandez with a 1.460 OPS. Otherwise, 1B/OF Chris Colabello (1.302 OPS) has been getting some burn in the outfield with Saunders on the shelf and Bautista nursing a sore shoulder. Colabello is 4% owned in Yahoo leagues as we go to press. Life could be worse. Add Toronto to your MLB picks this Thursday.
Free MLB Pick: Take the Blue Jays at 5Dimes