MLB Picks: Go Big or Go Home With Orioles vs. Blue Jays - Who To Back in AL Wild Card

Marcus Stroman Stroman starts for Blue Jays in wild card showdown

Joe Catalano

Tuesday, October 4, 2016 5:21 PM UTC

Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016 5:21 PM UTC

The Winner goes to Texas to play the Rangers in the ALDS Game 1 on Friday and loser goes home. With everything on the line in this wild-card matchup between the Baltimore Orioles and the Toronto Blue Jays, you are liable to see anything as this is for all the marbles.


Both of these teams finished in a dead tie during the regular season and being that Toronto held the head to head advantage at 10 games to 9, the Blue Jays get to host this game at the Rogers Centre in this highly anticipated matchup. According to 5 Dimes, one top rated Sportsbook, Toronto is a -140 betting favorite and the total is listed at 8 1/2 runs.


Chris Tillman vs. Marcus Stroman

At 9-10 with a 4.36 ERA, starting pitcher Marcus Stroman is hardly the pitcher that a team would want to get the start when everything is on the line, but it's either him or Francisco Liriano and Stroman has had a solid start to his career.

In the month of September, Stroman went 0-5, but this can hardly be blamed on him as he sported a 3.41 ERA. Toronto's offense, which is one of the stronger offenses in baseball, simply didn't provide Stroman with enough run support. I expect Stroman to pitch well and in a situation such as this, if he encounters any problems, he'll immediately get the hook as any pitcher on the roster is available to pitch as this is a win or go home situation.

The Jays face Chris Tillman and although his ERA is a bit higher than Stroman's at 3.77, Tillman has gotten the run support en route to a 16-6 record. Tillman didn't pitch a ton of innings in September as every game for Baltimore was of utter importance and there were frequent pitching changes as the O's were playing from behind. Tillman had one poor start  in four outings in September and this pitching matchup is a virtual wash. Both of these teams have some big sluggers and the effectiveness of the respective offenses is what this game will come down to.


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The Big 3?

The trio of Josh Donaldson (37 HR, 99 RBI, .284 BA, .404 OBP%), Edwin Encarnacion (42 HR, 127 RBI, .263 BA), and Jose Bautista (22 HR, 69 RBI, .234 BA) are the go-to guys on this squad. Don't let Bautista's numbers fool you. His fighting ability may be poor, but this is a guy that's known for having 50 home run seasons and comes up with timely hits. If anything, he might be the biggest threat on the team when it comes to needing a bomb. As for Donaldson, he had a monster season in his first year with the Blue Jays last year and still had a really solid season this year. His .404 OBP% is a number that sticks out as this is considered high and every run counts in a game like this and that means the ability to go deep or the ability to get on base. Donaldson can do both and I expect him to be a factor in this game.

I haven't mentioned Troy Tulowitzki because it's clear that he was a product of Coors Field. Nonetheless, Tulo has the ability to be a game-changer and is another player to keep an eye on, as well as in the MLB odds.


Manny Machado and Mark Trumbo

Even though the Baltimore Orioles have a ton of guys that can beat the opposition at any time, these are the two players that present the biggest threat.

Trumbo has revived his career as a member of the Orioles. He led the American League with 47 HR to go along with 108 RBI's and a modest .256 BA. Make no mistake about it; Trumbo is out there to hack. He's capable of changing the complexion of the game with one swing and is not out there to get a single. He's unpredictable, but his upside is high due to his power.

As for Manny Machado, he was hitting in the .300's all season long and picked the wrong time to go cold as he ended the season 0 for his last 16 at-bats. Will this carry over to this game? The Orioles are certainly hoping not as he's the leader of this Orioles squad as he provides the youth and the talent. I look for Machado to snap out of it because he's too good a player and everything is on the line.

This is a virtually dead even game. Neither pitcher is an ace and both teams have offenses that can explode. Baltimore played better for most of the season but gave up their spot at the top. However, what I like about Baltimore is the resilience that they showed this season as they fought back late in the season to grab a wild-card spot. They've come too far to go home now. Make the Baltimore Orioles your betting pick.


Free MLB Pick: Baltimore Orioles +132
Best Line Offered: at 5 Dimes

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