AL East-champion Toronto is a big favorite on the MLB futures board over AL West-champion Texas for this American League divisional-round series. The question is; where does the betting value reside?
Rangers-Blue Jays ALDS Odds
As of early this week the best MLB odds we could find on Toronto to win this ALDS was the -235 offered at 5Dimes, while Texas was getting +195, also at 5Dimes. Also, 5Dimes was offering the Blue Jays at +155 to win the American League pennant, while Texas was getting +600 at Bookmaker.
Rangers-Jays ALDS Set-Up
Toronto was only about a .500 team for most of this season, then swung a couple of big deals around the trade deadline, adding lefty ace David Price to the top of the rotation and SS Troy Tulowitzki to an already potent lineup. The Jays responded by going 40-17 over the last two months of the season, winning the AL East, earning the two seed for these American League playoffs.
Texas, meanwhile, also struggled for a good part of this season, fighting another serious bout with the injury bug. But the Rangers kept plugging away, got hot starting in late July, caught Houston in the last couple of weeks and won the AL West on the last day of the regular season, paying off at odds of around 12/1.
So both teams have been playing great ball as of late.
Toronto took four of six games from Texas this season, taking two of three games at home back in June, then two of three in Arlington in August. The totals went 1-2 in the games played at Rogers Centre, 2-1 in the games played at Globe Life Park.
In that first series Mark Buehrle beat Nick Martinez 12-2, while Yovani Gallardo threw 8 1/3 scoreless innings for a Rangers victory; in the second series Buehrle beat Derek Holland, Price beat Colby Lewis and Gallardo beat Marco Estrada.
Toronto is expected to throw Price (18-5, 2.45 ERA) in Game 1 Thursday, and as of this writing hadn't announced who would follow for Game 2 Friday or Game 3 Sunday in Arlington.
Texas is expected to counter with Gallardo (13-11, 3.42 ERA) and Cole Hamels (13-8, 3.65 ERA) in Games 1 and 2, and hadn't yet announced for Game 3.
The Blue Jays went 9-2 in games Price started for them this season, 16-12 with Marco Estrada, 18-15 for RA Dickey and 4-0 for Marcus Stroman. They also, somehow, went 18-10 in games Drew Hutchison started, but with his 5.57 ERA we're not sure they'll risk him in this ALDS. Same goes for Buehrle, whom they went 18-14 with.
The Rangers, meanwhile, went 19-14 with Gallardo, 10-2 with Hamels, 17-16 with Lewis and 11-10 with Martinez.
Texas ranked third in the Majors this season at 4.6 runs per game, sixth in team OBP at .325 and ninth in team slugging at .413.
Toronto, meanwhile, led the Big Leagues in scoring at 5.5 RPG, in OBP at .340 team and in slugging percentage at .457.
The Rangers can bang it around alright, but the Jays still own the advantage with the sticks.
The Texas bullpen ranked 24th in the Bigs this season with a 4.12 ERA, 22nd by allowing an opponents' OBP of .324, 22nd with a 1.35 WHIP and 25th with a K/BB ratio of 2.27.
The Toronto pen, meanwhile, ranked 12th in ERA at 3.50, third-best in opponents' OBP at .289, third in WHIP at 1.14 and No. 1 with a 3.53 K/BB ratio.
We gotta give the Jays the advantage in the bullpen comparison, too.
ALDS Series Pick
Toronto finished five games ahead of Texas in the regular season standings, owns home-field advantage for this series, gets the check-marks with the sticks and in the bullpen and has a big-time ace in Price, who could start twice in this series. So for our free MLB picks on this ALDS we gotta go with the Blue Jays.
Series Pick: Toronto Blue Jays -235