MLB Picks: Blue Jays Superstar Lineup Ready To Take On Devil Rays

Swinging Johnson

Sunday, April 3, 2016 12:27 PM GMT

Opening Day has arrived and below we discuss the MLB odds on the AL East matchup between the Blue Jays and the Rays. Let's start the season off with a winner this afternoon.

Jays Boast Power Lineup
After Toronto captured last season's AL East title, their first in 20 years, the Jays knocked out the Texas Rangers in the divisional round and advanced to the ALCS against eventual World Series champs, the Kansas City Royals. It was quite a ride for Toronto and its fans but the common denominator was a punishing lineup that plated a whopping 891 runs last season with the highest +/- in all of baseball with +221 differential. The closest team in terms of runs scored was the second place New York Yankees who scored 127 runs less than the Jays' juggernaut. It should be noted only four other teams since 1900 have outscored the second place offense by more than that amount.

This team is a mash unit (students of the military and old, clever TV sit-coms will get the double entendre) that led the league in home runs, walks, extra-base hits, OPS, on-base percentage, and slugging last season. They hit only two more dingers as a team than the Orioles last year but struck out 181 fewer times. Their lineup is replete with superstars such as Josh Donaldson, Troy Tulowitzki, Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Bautista, and Russell Martin who can flat out rake. The team is projected to terrorize opposition pitchers once again this season.

 

Rays' Archer Gets Opener
Twenty-seven-year-old Chris Archer will get the ball when the Rays welcome the Jays to Tampa this afternoon. Archer logged 212 innings last season for Tampa and ended the season with a 12-13 record and an ERA of 3.23 with a WHIP of 1.14. The Rays need to give Archer and the rest of their staff runs support if they are to do any better than their fourth place finish last season. Tampa plated only 644 runs last season which trailed every team in the American League but the Chicago White Sox.

When Archer has taken the hill against the Blue Jays over his career he has posted numbers that are astoundingly similar to his season stats from the 2015 campaign with a 3.23 ERA and a 1.143 WHIP over the course of 15 appearances. If you have backed the Rays in your MLB picks when Archer either starts or has an appearance you would have seen a 9-6 record that produced +2.0 units. In Archer's last appearance against Toronto on October 3, 2015 he went five full innings allowing just one run on five hits in a 4-3 Rays home victory. That was decidedly disparate from his start a week earlier in Toronto when he got shelled for nine earned runs on 10 hits in only 3.7 innings of work resulting in a 10-8 defeat.

 

Betting Analysis
For anyone that was wondering it appears Edwin Encarnacion will be suited and available to mash for the Toronto's opener. Encarnacion has been battling an oblique strain which appears to be under control for the time being and could even be in the starting lineup. Regardless, these teams have played quite even over the last couple of seasons when the venue is sunny Tampa Bay. Toronto is 9-10 straight up but due to their repeated MLB odds underdog status has returned +0.3 units over those 19 encounters.

We know that the Jays have a more potent lineup but what we are ignoring is the man who takes the bump for them today, 24-year-old Marcus Stroman. The Jays' ace missed most of last season with a torn ACL before the regular season began but returned in September to post a 1.67 ERA and a 0.96 WHIP in four starts in which he won all four games. In other words, the Rays may not have any hitting but they have Chris Archer whereas the Jays have tons of hitting and they have...a guy every bit as good as Archer. Choice made -go with the road dog here...

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Free MLB Pick: Toronto -103
Best Line Offered: at Heritage