MLB Picks: Astros vs. Blue Jays Series Coverage

Willie Bee

Thursday, July 25, 2013 12:38 PM GMT

The Astros and Blue Jays meet for the first time as AL opponents, and SBR will cover all four games in Toronto with analysis and free picks.

This time, it was the Houston Astros who had the biggest inning, and Saturday's win leaves them with the opportunity to earn a split in a road series in Sunday's finale at the Toronto Blue Jays.

Houston would even appear to have the mound advantage to split the 4-game set, though the MLB odds don't agree with that assumption.  Toronto will have Todd Redmond on the hill for the 1:07 PM (ET) start, and after opening in the mid -160s, the Blue Jays are fetching a -175 price on Sunday morning.  The Astros counter with Jared Cosart and a 9.5 run total awaits scoreboard bettors.

A 4-run first inning gave the Astros a lead they would never relinquish in Saturday's 8-6 final.  Both starting pitchers, Dallas Keuchel and Josh Johnson, served up three home runs, bringing the total to 12 in the last two games, eight of those off Blue Jay bats.

We saw Cosart this past Tuesday in the middle game of Houston's set with the A's.  The rookie righthander was making just his second MLB start and performed admirably with seven innings and just one earned run crossing the plate.  He failed to decision, but the Astros put together a wild ninth inning for the 5-4 victory.

Cosart's first start came on the road just before the all-star break, and it couldn't have gone better facing a good Rays lineup in St. Pete.  He has walked three in each of his first two assignments, but managed to erase some of those baserunners thanks to six double plays behind him.

Redmond has made three starts in a row following three relief appearances earlier this year, and the good news is Toronto managed to win two of them.  The down side is the righty has yet to make it through the sixth frame and has served up four homers in 14.2 IP as a starter. 

More rain is in the Toronto forecast today, and it's likely we'll see the roof shut as it was for Game 3.  Temps are expected to just reach into the low-70s with a 10-15 mph SW wind (out to right).  Sam Holbrook is up next for plate duty in the umpire crew, and brings pretty level stats into the tilt.  His 2013 totals record is 10-9-1 O/U/1, and the only game he called with a 9.5 run scoreboard tally stayed UNDER.

[gameodds]3/240145/?r-1=43-349/us[/gameodds]

This looks like a decent spot to play the underdog Astros given the pitching matchup, but I will doggedly continue fading the Astros.  The way the bats are going for both sides, especially Toronto hitters taking pitches deep, I'm once again going to recommend the OVER for my free play.

My pick: Astros-Blue Jays Over 9.5 (-110) at Bet 365

 

27 July
Saturday's Game

By: Willie Bee

 

It turns out big innings don't just take place in Houston Astros games that include the Oakland Athletics.  The Toronto Blue Jays overcame three 2-run deficits Friday thanks to one explosive frame, and shoot for their third consecutive win in Saturday's matinee.

How little faith do baseball bettors and sports books have in the Astros?  Saturday's opener was Toronto -230, and I don't believe I've ever seen MLB odds that high on a team that's 3-10 behind a starting pitcher.  Josh Johnson is that hurler, with Houston sending Dallas Keuchel to the mound.  Little to no movement has taken place on the moneyline, and the 9.5 run total is taxed heavier to the low side.

After trailing 2-0, 4-2 and 6-4, the Blue Jays launched a 7th-inning offensive that saw eight runs cross the plate for a 12-6 victory.  Edwin Encarnacion fueled that frame with two home runs, part of a 5-HR evening for Toronto.

Keuchel left with the lead in his last start on Monday vs. the A's, but Houston's bullpen coughed it up for a 4-3 defeat instead.  The Astros are 1-5 his last six assignments, and the former Arkansas standout hasn't added a win to his personal ledger since beating the White Sox on June 18.  Saturday marks Keuchel's career cherry vs. the Blue Jays, who are 13-16 vs. lefties after beating Erik Bedard on Thursday, and the Astros are 1-2 when he starts against AL East teams this year (5.06 ERA).

Injuries certainly have played a part, but Johnson qualifies as the biggest disappointment in Toronto's offseason talent haul.  Expected to serve as the staff ace, the Blue Jays are instead 3-10 in his assignments after dropping the last five during which Johnson worked to a 7.71 ERA.  Johnson also doesn't own much success vs. the Astros over his career, 0-3 in five starts and a relief appearance with a 4.88 ERA, all of that with the Marlins.

[gameodds]3/240103/?r-1=43-349-192/us[/gameodds]

MLB swapped out umpire crews on Friday night, bringing in Joe West's bunch for presumably the remainder of the weekend.  Adam Hamari is presently part of this crew, subbing for Rob Drake, and should have the plate for Game 3 in Toronto.  This is Hamari's first season calling games in the big leagues, and he made his debut about a month ago as a fill-in on Jeff Kellogg's crew.  His five plate assignments so far have ended 3-2 O/U and 2-1 in favor of home favorites.

There's a 50%-60% chance of a t-storm passing through Toronto this afternoon, so I'm banking on the roof being shut at Rogers Centre.  It's difficult to have much confidence in Johnson or the Astros, though I will continue my Fade the Astros project, also getting behind the OVER with a free play on the total.

My pick: Astros-Blue Jays Over 9.5 (-105) at Bet 365

 

26 July
Friday's Game

By: Willie Bee

 

Facing the Houston Astros was apparently the perfect tonic for Toronto Blue Jays veteran Mark Buehrle.  His quest for a third career no-hitter fell a couple of safeties short, but the 4-0 shutout was his first in just over four years, the complete game effort his first since May 2012.

Having snapped their 7-game losing skid, the Blue Jays shoot for a second straight dubya on Friday.  Toronto opened as a $2.30 behind RA Dickey for the game, a lot of faith to put into the Blue Jays even going up against the Rodney Dangerfield's of baseball.  A 9.5 run total (U -120) was also in the offing originally for the matchup which finds Jordan Lyles on the bump for Houston.

The only movement in the MLB odds has been on the scoreboard where 9 is the number following overnight action.

Lyles will be facing the Blue Jays for the first time in his short career, and for a guy who has seen his ERA rise more than a run-&-a-half in his last five starts, Rogers Centre could prove to be an extremely tough place to try and shed the bad mojo.  Lyles, like Toronto's ballpark, has proven to be pretty hitter-friendly since the middle of June.  Houston has dropped his last five outings with Lyles' ERA at 6.17 and the opposition banging out 35 hits in those 26 innings.

Dickey hasn't been a mystery himself the last three times out, all Toronto defeats and the knuckler's 5.68 ERA largely due to five homers in that 19-inning stretch.  Dickey has been prone to the long ball all season with 23 total and three starts in which he has served up three deep drives, as he did vs. Tampa Bay last Sunday.

[gameodds]3/240103/?r-1=43-349-192/us[/gameodds]

The former Tennessee Vol had never faced the Astros as a starter until 2010, his first with the New York Mets.  Dickey has since faced them six times, the Mets split the half-dozen decisions while he pitched to a 3.67 ERA.  Nobody in the current Houston lineup has ever taken him out of the yard.

Calling the balls and strikes this evening should be Dan Bellino who is 9-11-1 O/U/P on the campaign, with home chalk just 6-7 when he has the plate.  Mostly clear skies and a game time temp right at 70º should lead to the roof at Rogers Centre once again being open.

Houston is 12-20 this season when the opposition is -200 or greater on the baseball betting board, and that has led to red ink in those situations.  I'll still be in Fade the Astros mode myself with a small play, but am recommending the OVER for my free pick.

My pick: Astros-Blue Jays Over 9 (-105) at Bet365

 

25 July
Thursday's Game

By: Willie Bee

 

If you go by winning percentage alone, there's no team the Houston Astros have dominated more than the Toronto Blue Jays. Of course, that .833 PCT comes from just six games between the clubs up to now, and Thursday marks the first-ever clash that isn't an interleague series.

Houston begins a 10-game road trip with a trek across the border into Canada, and if the pitching matchup for Game 1 has you thinking we should be seeing different AL teams on the field, you have a good memory. The double-lefty duel features Erik Bedard for the Astros and Mark Buehrle for the Jays, and it's the fourth time they've faced off on a major league mound, though first in their present uniforms. 

We'll come back to the starting pitchers a little later, but first we need to get to the real meat of the baseball betting data. Toronto started out as $2.00 chalk, a moneyline that has come down at most shops listed on SBR's live MLB odds though it is up at a few others. The total for Homer Centre, er, Rogers Centre is 9.5 and generally priced to the UNDER. 

Clubs Will Double Series History In Next Month

While New York Yankees hurler Mariano Rivera is making his farewell tour this year, the Astros have been on something of a howdy expedition in their inaugural AL campaign. Thursday is only their second visit to Roger Centre, and they'd love for a similar outcome as in 2011 when Houston won two of three, UNDER bettors also cashing twice.

The only other time the clubs met was down in H-Town way back in 2005; the Astros swept that series, and not a player from that NL pennant-winning squad remains on the roster. A month from now, the 'Stros and Jays will more than double their series history with these four in Toronto this weekend followed by the Blue Jays playing three in Houston (Aug. 23-25).

The Astros reach Toronto after a 1-5 homestand and 16-29 on the road. Houston is 4-13 vs. AL East squads, 2-8 on the road. This will be the end of a 10-game homestand for the Blue Jays, and it has so far been a disaster after the Dodgers completed a sweep on Wednesday to leave Toronto 0-6 since the break and on a 7-game skid.

Fade The Astros, Fade Pitchers Off No-Hitters

Bedard was criticized for taking himself out of his last start with a no-hitter in progress, but let's be realistic. He'd already reached a season-high 109 pitches -- in fact, the most he's thrown in a game since last July while employed by the Pirates -- and the game was already lost in the seventh vs. the Mariners last Saturday thanks in large part to his own wildness (5 BB).

Houston's poor defense didn't help matters, but there was no way Bedard could withstand some 140 pitch evening, probably more, to complete it. He will be looking for his first win in July after beginning the month 0-4 (4.30 ERA).

Buehrle, of course, has two complete game no-hitters on his resume, one of them a perfect game and neither of which required more than 116 pitches. The Pride of St. Charles, MO would love to just throw a complete game win at this point of what has been a disappointing and inconsistent season. Buehrle has been pretty solid at home, however, the Blue Jays winning seven of those 10 outings, his ERA at 2.07 in the last six assignments.

Bedard and Buehrle met three times previously, twice in 2007 while Bedard was with the Orioles and once in 2011 when he was in Seattle. Neither decisioned in two of the games with Bedard beating Buehrle in the one real duel they had, 2-0.

[gameodds]3/240050/?r-1=43-349-192/us[/gameodds]

It should be a nice day in Toronto and I'm counting on the roof being open with a first pitch temp right at 70º and clear skies. Saturday could be another story, but we'll have to wait and see.

I've been fading the Astros with a small play on the moneyline each and every game, and 100 contests into this exercise, I'm up a little more than three units. If you don't like laying nearly 1/2 on any team, especially one in a tailspin like the Jays, perhaps a play on the UNDER tonight is a better wager to make for your MLB picks.

My pick: Astros-Blue Jays Under 9.5 (-115) at Bet365