MLB Pick on Toronto Blue Jays as Small Home Chalk vs. Rays

LT Profits Sports Group

Thursday, April 16, 2015 2:11 PM UTC

Thursday, Apr. 16, 2015 2:11 PM UTC

Each day LT Profits Sports seeks an overlay side that has a better chance of cashing than its spread, offering long term value. Here is their Side Value Play for Thursday.


The home team has a chance to gain a split of a four-game series in the final game Thursday night when Chris Archer and the Tampa Bay Rays (5-4, 4-2 away) pay a visit to fellow right-hander Aaron Sanchez and those Toronto Blue Jays (5-4, 1-2 home) at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, ON Canada at 7:07 ET in a game available on Sun Sports.

The posted money line at Pinnacle Sports has Toronto as a small home favorite for this contest at current odds of -107.

Toronto Offense Awakened Wednesday
The Toronto offense had been uncharacteristically shut down in the first two games of this series by Jake Odorizzi and Matt Andriese respectively while losing by scores of 2-1 and 3-2. However that offense awoke in a 12-7 victory on Wednesday while pounding out 13 hits including three home runs, which has been more typical for an offense that ranks fourth in the majors with 5.89 runs per game at this infant stage of the season.

The Rays had been the winning MLB picks in four straight games prior to last night, although the early returns for Tampa Bay in their first season under new manager Kevin Cash after long-time skipper Joe Maddon bolted for the Chicago Cubs have not been that great statistically despite being tied with Toronto with a 5-4 mark, as the Rays are simultaneously 14th in the Major Leagues in batting with just a .232 team average and 20th in team ERA at 4.26.

Archer Not Great vs. Blue Jays Last Year
The Rays are counting heavily on Archer to become a top-of-the-rotation starter this year and there is no denying that he has the raw stuff to do the job, as evidenced by his last start on Saturday when he allowed only one hit in seven scoreless innings vs. the Marlins in Miami with five strikeouts vs. one walk. That was an encouraging effort after Archer was touched up for four runs (three earned) on six hits including two home runs in 5.2 innings in his first start.

Still, we have always felt that Archer is a tad overrated, and even though he is coming off of his best season last year when looking only at mainstream stats as he went 10-9 with a 3.33 ERA and 1.28 WHIP and 173 strikeouts in 194.2 innings, those numbers are actually not as good as what some experts envisioned from a guy that can have electric “stuff” when he is on top of his game and his 3.79 xFIP and 3.33 walks per nine innings last year were also lacking.

Furthermore Archer was not especially sharp in his six starts vs. Toronto in 2014, managing a 1-1 record but with a 4.14 ERA. He now must contend with a Blue Jays’ offense that has already scored double-digit runs three times in just nine games following Wednesday’s outburst!

Sanchez Has Nice Potential if He Keeps Walks Down
Sanchez pitched out of the bullpen last season for the Blue Jays and he pitched well for the most part going 2-2 with three saves and a 1.09 ERA and 0.70 WHIP while yielding an opponents’ batting average of just .128 on 24 appearances. And he also had a very good ratio of 27 strikeouts vs. nine walks in 33 innings. Unfortunately his first Major League start did not go as well as he was charged with three earned runs on seven hits in 3.1 innings vs. the Orioles.

Still, he had only two walks in that contest and the one hurdle that had prevented an earlier call-up to the Major Leagues for the 22-year-old native of Barstow, California was a lack of command in the minor leagues. However, that command improved toward the end of his time in the minor leagues last year and, most impressively, that improvement has continued trough his time in the majors so far.

Sanchez was a first round draft pick by the Jays in the 2010 MLB draft and he could fulfill that high potential provided that he continues to keep his bases on balls to a minimum. He is also facing a Tampa Bay lineup batting only .229 vs. right-handed pitching this early season.

Bautista and Donaldson Heating Up?
Finally, it could be scary for the rest of the American League that Toronto is already near the top of the league in scoring despite slow starts from two key pieces in Jose Bautista and Josh Donaldson. Well, Donaldson has broken out in this series by going 5-for-9 in the last two games and Bautista hit his second home run of the year in his first at-bat last night.

The potential for the Blue Jays to be even better offensively than they have shown so far combined with Archer not really living up to what experts expected so far should be enough to make Toronto a nice play at a cheap price at home vs. Tampa Bay on Thursday.

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MLB Pick: Blue Jays -107

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