Toronto is trying to close out a division title, while Boston is playing out the string. Motivation plays a large part in Friday night's series opener between the Jays & Sox, and in handicapping it.
Red Sox-Blue Jays Friday Odds
As of this writing the best price on the MLB odds board we could find on Toronto and Marcus Stroman was the -183 at BetOnline, while Boston and Rick Porcello could be found getting +178 at 5Dimes. Also, BetOnline was chalking the Blue Jays at -280 to win this series, with the Sox getting +235.
Toronto just took two of three games in Atlanta this week, winning a rubber match Thursday 5-0. So the Jays are 7-1 in their last eight series, 18-7 over its last 25 games.
At 84-62 Toronto leads the AL East by 3.5 games over second-place New York, and only trails Kansas City by two games in the battle for the best record in the American League.
Boston, meanwhile, just dropped two of three games at Baltimore, avoiding the sweep with a 10-1 victory Wednesday. But the Sox are 3-1 in their last four series, 8-4 over their last 12 games.
At 69-76 Boston is trying to make a late run at .500. The Sox are also 4-2 since Dustin Pedroia returned from a stint on the DL.
Friday's Mound Match-Up
Stroman (1-0, 5.40) will be making his second start of this season, after spraining a knee back in spring training. Last Saturday, in his season debut, Stroman allowed three runs on four hits and a pair of walks through five innings of a 10-7 Toronto victory.
Last year, as a rookie, Stroman went 13-for-20 on quality starts, compiling a 1.17 WHIP and a 111/28 K/BB ratio through 131 innings.
Last year Stroman started three times against Boston, giving up just three runs through 21 2/3 innings; Toronto won all three of those games, while the UNDERS went 2-0-1.
Porcello (8-12, 5.06) is only 11-for-24 on quality starts this season, but four-for-four since coming off the DL three weeks ago. Last Saturday he held Tampa to three runs through seven innings, and over his last four starts he's held foes to seven ER through 29 1/3 innings. For the season Porcello has allowed 161 hits, including 24 homers, through 144 innings, walked 33 and struck out 122.
The Sox are 12-12 in Porcello's starts, with the UNDERS going 12-11.
Porcello has started three times this season against Toronto, giving up 11 ER through 16 1/3 innings; Boston won two of those games, and two games played OVER.
Friday's Batting Splits
Boston ranks sixth in the Bigs this season against right-handed pitching with a .325 team on-base percentage, and 11th with a .413 team slugging percentage.
Toronto, meanwhile, ranks No. 1 against righties with a .331 team OBP and second with a .449 team slugging percentage.
Ballpark Totals Factor
Games played at Rogers Centre this season are 42-28 on the UNDERS, even though they're averaging 9.2 runs per. Obviously, oddsmakers are listing some large totals on Jays home games.
Toronto is without SS Troy Tulowitzki, who's on the DL with a fractured scapula. On the other side of the scorecard Boston is without OF Hanley Ramirez and closer Koji Uehara.
Sox vs. Jays Betting Analysis
Toronto is fighting for a playoff berth while Boston is just trying to play spoiler, and motivation is our key factor in handicapping this contest. We like the Jays at home with our MLB pick, and we'll take a chance with a play on the run line.
MLB Pick: Toronto -1.5 (+115) on the run line at Heritage