MLB Picks: Toronto has a Better Team with More to Play for vs. Tampa Bay

Darin Zank

Sunday, October 4, 2015 2:30 PM GMT

Toronto needs a win & help from elsewhere to claim home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Jays will try to take care of business when they finish up their regular-season vs. Tampa Bay.

Blue Jays-Rays Sunday Odds
As of this writing the best MLB odds we could find on Toronto, supposedly with Mark Buehrle starting was the -117 offered at The Greek, while Tampa with fellow lefty Matt Moore was getting +109 at Bookmaker.

 

The Situation
These teams have split the first two games of this series, after Tampa's 4-3 victory Saturday. The Rays trailed 3-2 into the bottom of the ninth, but Tim Beckham came up with a two-out, two-run base hit to win the game for Tampa.

So the Rays have won four of their last five games, while Toronto has lost three of its last four.

Big-picture, the Jays need a victory Sunday and a Kansas City loss at Minnesota to claim the No. 1 seed for the upcoming American League playoffs. That honor would also include home-field advantage in the World Series, thanks to the AL's victory in this year's All-Star game.

Tampa, meanwhile, is just trying to play spoiler.

These teams have now split 18 meetings this season, with the UNDERS going 9-5-4.

 

Sunday's Starters
Moore (2-4, 5.84) is only three-for-eight on quality starts this season, which for him didn't begin until July, but three for his last three. Tuesday he held Miami to one run through seven innings, and over his last three starts he's allowed just three runs through 20 2/3 innings.

Tampa is 4-7 in Moore's starts, with the totals splitting 4-4.

This will be Moore's first start against Toronto since April of last season, when he gave up two runs in 5 2/3 innings of a 3-0 Rays loss.

Buehrle (15-7, 3.82) is making this start basically just so he can pitch two more innings, and get to 200 on the season, which would mark his 15th straight season of his doing so. He also started Friday's game, allowing four runs through 6 2/3 innings. Overall, in four starts this year against Tampa Buehrle has allowed 16 runs through 24 1/3 innings.

After (if) Buehrle gets his six outs, the Jays are likely to turn this game over to their bullpen, which we rank among the top eight or nine in baseball at the moment.

 

Saturday's Batting Splits
Toronto ranks No. 1 in the Majors this season against left-handed pitching with both a .354 team on-base percentage and a .461 team slugging percentage.

Tampa, meanwhile, ranks 11th against lefties with a .323 team OBP and third with a .433 team slugging percentage.

 

Ballpark Totals Factor
After Saturday's game pushed its total of seven runs, games played at the Trop this season are still 40-33 on the OVERS, even though they're only averaging 7.6 runs per, fourth-fewest among all ML ballparks.

 

Personnel Update
Toronto sat SS Troy Tulowitzki Saturday, but he is expected to start Sunday.

 

Jays-Rays Free Picks
The Toronto pitching situation messes things up a bit, but could perhaps become an advantage for the Jays, if they want to go inning-by-inning after Buehrle leaves the game. And Toronto would surely love to own home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Moore has been good lately, and may have a nice 2016 in his future, but our free MLB pick on this contest goes with the Blue Jays.

MLB Pick: Toronto (-117) at The Greek