Toronto is a huge favorite for Game 1 of its AL divisional-round series with Texas Thursday afternoon, but as they say, there's more than one way to bet a playoff baseball game.
Rangers-Blue Jays ALDS Game 1 Odds
As of Wednesday morning the best MLB odds we could find on Toronto with lefty David Price was the
-230 lined at Youwager, while Texas with Yovani Gallardo was getting +212 at BetOnline. And the total on Thursday afternoon's game sat at 7.5 runs, which is about as low as we've seen for a Blue Jays home game in a while.
Toronto is the AL East champion, after going 40-17 over the last two months of the season to finish at 93-69. However, the Jays lost four of their last five games to miss out on the top seed on the American League side of the playoff bracket.
Texas is champion of the AL West, after going 38-21 the last two months to overtake Houston and Anaheim. The Rangers lost five of eight down the stretch, but won their final game to clinch the division title, earning the three seed.
Toronto took the season series from Texas four games to two, while the totals split 3-3.
Game 1 Pitching Match-Up
Price (18-5, 2.45) is 22-for-32 on quality starts this year, nine-for-11 since joining Toronto back in August. Last time out, back on Sept. 26, he gave up five runs – four earned – in five innings against Tampa, but over his four starts previous to that he held opponents to just four runs through 26 innings.
The Blue Jays are 9-2 in games Price has started for them, with the UNDERS going 6-5.
In his one start this year against Texas Price gave up two runs on five hits through six innings, whiffing eight, in a 12-4 Toronto victory back in last August.
Gallardo (13-11, 3.42), by our strict standards, is only 10-for-33 on quality starts this season, and 0 for his last seven, because it's been eight starts since he completed six full innings. Last Tuesday he gave up two runs and nine hits through 5 1/3 innings against Detroit, and over his last four starts he's allowed 12 runs through 19 1/3 innings. Gallardo has been on a very short leash as of late; he hasn't pitched into the seventh inning since before the All-Star break.
On the season the Rangers are 19-14 in Gallardo's starts, with the totals skewing toward the UNDERS by a 22-9 margin.
In two starts this season against the Jays Gallardo allowed zero runs and just six hits through 13 2/3 innings; Texas won both those games, and both games played UNDER.
Game 1 Batting Splits
Texas ranked 12th in the Majors this season against left-handed pitching with a .321 team on-base percentage, and ninth with a .414 team slugging percentage.
Toronto, on the other hand, ranked No. 1 against right-handed pitching with both a .335 team OBP and a .455 team slugging percentage.
Ballpark Totals Factor
Games played at Rogers Centre this season skewed 46-31 toward the UNDERS, even though they averaged 9.2 runs per, fifth-most among all ML ballparks. Obviously bookmakers have been posting large totals on Jays home games.
Game 1 Free Picks
We like Toronto to win this series, and to take Game 1. But we don't like that price for Thursday's opener. So in seeing how short Gallardo has been going as of late, and believing the Jays bats can do damage against the Texas bullpen, which we rank among the bottom third in baseball, we'll take a chance on our free MLB pick on this game and play the home team on the run line.
MLB Pick: Blue Jays -110 on the run line at Pinnacle