The Blue Jays & Braves play a rubber match Thursday night, and this handicapper likes an alternative play with your MLB pick, instead of the steep price on Toronto.
Jays-Braves Thursday Odds
As of this writing the best MLB odds we could find on Toronto with Marco Estrada was the -205 at GTBets, while Bookmaker was giving Atlanta and rookie righty Matt Wisler +195. The Jays could also be played at -125 on the run line at Pinnacle.
These teams have split the first two games of this series, following Toronto's 9-1 victory Wednesday night. The win halted a two-game losing streak for the Blue Jays, while Atlanta has lost 25 of its last 29 contests.
At 83-62 Toronto leads the AL East by three games over second-place New York. The Jays have also crept to within two games of Kansas City in the race for the best record in the American League.
On the other end of the scale Atlanta, at 57-89, is down to playing for pride. However, the Braves have actually taken three of five games from the Jays this season.
Wisler (5-7, 5.60) is only five-for-15 on quality starts this season, and running seriously Jekyll-and-Hyde as of late. Four starts ago he got rocked for seven runs in less than three innings against the Cubs; then he held the Yankees to two runs through six innings; then he gave up seven runs in less than two innings against Washington; but last time out he held the Mets to two runs through six frames. For the season Wisler has allowed 96 hits through 80 innings, walked 34 and struck out 54.
Atlanta is 6-9 in Wisler's starts, with the UNDERS going 8-7.
This will be Wisler's first-ever start against Toronto.
Estrada (12-8, 3.31) is 12-for-24 on quality starts this year. Last Saturday he gave up four runs in five innings against the Yankees, while over his last four starts he's allowed nine runs through 23 innings, walking nine and giving up six gopher balls in that span. On the season Estrada has allowed only 118 hits through 152 innings, walked 49 and struck out 113.
The Jays are 14-10 in Estrada's starts, with the UNDERS going 13-11.
This will be Estrada's first start against Atlanta since 2013, when he was with Milwaukee.
Thursday's Batting Splits
Toronto leads the Majors this season against right-handed pitching with a .331 team on-base percentage, and ranks second with a .448 team slugging percentage.
Atlanta, meanwhile, ranks 15th against righties with a .317 team OBP but dead last with a .365 team slugging percentage.
Ballpark Totals Factor
The OVERS are now 38-27 in games played at Turner Field this season, which are averaging 8.6 runs per.
Toronto is still without SS Troy Tulowitzki, but slugger Edwin Encarnacion returned to the lineup Wednesday, after missing a couple of games with a sore finger, and went 3-for-3 with two walks. That'll help the ol' OBP.
Jays-Braves Free Picks
Each of Toronto's last 13 victories (13-7 during this span) have all come by at least two runs, so we'll take a chance with the Jays against the run line tonight with our MLB picks. Also, there's a chance Toronto could go OVER all by itself, so we'll play the OVER, too.
MLB Picks: Blue Jays -1½ (-130) & OVER 8 at BetOnline