Toronto was the pre-season favorite to win the AL East, but not only are the Jays off to a slow start, they're also now without a guy who was supposed to set the table for the bigger boppers in the line-up.
Toronto, at 5-7 on this young season, now heads into a four-game series with the 5-7 Chicago White Sox at the Rogers Centre starting Monday night (7 pm ET).
Can the Jays jump-start their season with a series victory? Or can the Sox take a series on the road, and how might some money be made with our MLB picks on this series?
Thursday's Game Four
By: Ron Patrick
Ever pay more than you should have to see a movie at the theater, then can't wait for the damn thing to get over because it's so bad? That's how we feel about this White Sox-Blue Jays series.
Chicago took Game 3 of this four-game series Wednesday night 7-0, getting a quality start from Jose Quintana and an early three-run homer from C Tyler Flowers.
So Chicago, at 7-8, will go for the series victory while the Jays, at 6-9, will be looking for the split when the teams meet in the series finale Thursday night (7 pm ET).
Sox-Jays Thursday Betting Odds
As of Thursday morning most MLB odds shops were listing Toronto, with 38-year-old knuckleballer RA Dickey, at right around -130 over Chicago with 24-year-old lefty Chris Sale. Most shops were also listing the OVER/UNDER on Thursday night's game at 7.5.
Thursday's Pitching Match-Up
In his first two starts for the Jays this season Dickey got nicked for 10 earned runs and 15 hits through 10 2/3 innings. But last time out he looked a little more like the guy who won the National League Cy Young Award last year, holding Kansas City to one run and five hits through 6 1/3 innings of a 3-2 Toronto victory last Saturday.
This will be Dickey's first appearance against the White Sox since 2009.
On the other side of this arms battle Sale (17-8, 3.05 ERA last year) gave up just three runs through his first two starts of this season, covering 14 2/3 innings, but then got bombed by Cleveland for eight runs and eight hits through 4 1/3 innings last Saturday.
Last year Sale did not pitch against Toronto.
Toronto slugger Jose Bautista has missed the first three games of this season because of a bad back, and his status for Thursday's game is uncertain.
Free MLB Pick for Thursday
We've had zero luck picking sides in this series, so for Thursday's game we'll take a crack at the total.
The first three games of this series have played UNDER on the totals. But Dickey has allowed three homers in 17 innings this season, while Sale has allowed four dingers through 19 innings. And the ball likes to fly inside Rogers Centre. So we're leaning toward the OVER for Thursday's game.
Free MLB Pick: We'll go with the OVER 7.5 runs (-115) offered at Bookmaker for our free MLB pick for Thursday.
Wednesday's Game Three
By: Ron Patrick
Chicago got this series to even with a 4-3 victory Tuesday night, tying the game on a Paul Konerko homer in the seventh, then pushing across two in the ninth for the victory.
The Sox cashed in Tuesday as +140 dogs on the MLB betting odds, and the game, like Monday's series opener, played UNDER on the total.
So both teams are 6-8 as they head into Game 3 of this four-game series Wednesday night (7 pm ET).
Wednesday's Sox-Jays Betting Odds
As of Wednesday AM most baseball books we consulted were listing Toronto with JA Happ at around -135 over Chicago with Jose Quintana, while the OVER/UNDER sat at nine.
Wednesday's Pitching Match-Up
A pair of young lefties hit the hill today as Happ goes against Quintana.
Quintana went 6-6 with a 3.76 ERA as a rookie last year, then allowed just three ER through 13 innings of prep work this Spring.
In his season debut Quintana got bopped for six runs in four innings against Seattle. But in his second outing he held Cleveland scoreless on one hit through seven innings last Friday.
Quintana started twice against Toronto last year, allowing four ER and 17 hits through 12 2/3 innings. Chicago split those two games.
Happ went 3-2 with a 4.69 ERA in 10 appearances for the Blue Jays last year. Then this Spring he gave up just five ER through 23 innings of prep work.
Happ opened this season by throwing 5 1/3 scoreless innings against Boston, but then allowed four runs in five innings last Friday against Kansas City. Happ needed 99 pitches to get 16 outs vs. the Red Sox and 110 pitches to get 15 outs versus the Royals, so efficiency hasn't exactly been his strong point.
This will be Happ's first-ever start vs. the White Sox.
On a personnel update Toronto slugger Jose Bautista has missed the first two games of this series with a sore back, and his status for Wednesday and Thursday is still uncertain.
Free MLB Pick for Wednesday
We haven't been able to get on the right side of this series yet; the Sox let us down Monday, then bit us in the wallet Tuesday. Such is the betting life.
As for Wednesday we see this game as darn-near a toss-up. But while we would usually go with the underdog in such a case, we give Happ a slight advantage in the pitching match-up, and the Jays a slight advantage with the bats. So we'll go with the home team to take the lead in this series.
Free MLB Pick: We'll take Toronto at the -129 offered at 5Dimes for Wednesday.
Tuesday's Game Two
By: Ron Patrick
Toronto took the opener of this series Monday night 4-3, getting a quality start from former White Sock Mark Buehrle and homers from JP Arencibia and Maicer Izturis.
The Jays won Monday as -120 favorites on the MLB odds boards, and the game played UNDER its total of 8.5.
The Sox have now scored a total of 16 runs over their last six games.
So Toronto is 6-7, Chicago 5-8 as the teams head into Game 2 of this four-game series Tuesday night (7 pm ET).
Tuesday's Sox-Jays MLB Odds
As of Tuesday AM most baseball books were listing Toronto with newcomer Josh Johnson hitting the hill at right around -150 over Chicago with Dylan Axelrod. The O/U on Tuesday's game opened at 8.5 at most online sportsbooks, then got bumped to nine.
Tuesday's Pitching Match-Up
Johnson went 8-14 with a 3.81 ERA for a lousy Miami team last year, then got traded to Toronto in November. So far, he hasn't done his new team any favors. In his season debut he gave up three ER and nine hits in six innings vs. Boston, then last Thursday got rocked for six runs in an inning and a third on a cold day in Detroit.
This Spring Johnson pitched well, giving up six ER through 20 innings of prep work. So we're a bit puzzled as to why he's been so bad since.
Having pitched in the National League his whole career Johnson has very little history vs. the White Sox, last facing them three seasons ago.
Axelrod went 2-2 last year with a 5.47 ERA. The 27-year-old righty then opened this season by holding Seattle to one unearned run and three hits in 5 2/3 innings of a 4-3 Chicago victory. But last time out Axelrod got clipped for six runs and seven hits in less than four innings of a 7-4 loss to Washington last Thursday.
Axelrod made one appearance vs. Toronto last year and got lit up for seven runs in three innings, giving up three homers in an 11-9 Sox loss in July.
Toronto slugger Jose Bautista missed Monday's game with a sore back, and his status for Tuesday's game is uncertain.
In some possible good news for the Jays IF Brett Lawrie, who hasn't played yet this season because of some sore ribs, could be activated for Tuesday's game.
Free MLB Pick for Tuesday
We took a loss with Chicago Monday night, a bet we made based mainly on the price. The game looked like a toss-up, so we took the underdog.
For Tuesday our guess is the weather had a little something to do with Johnson's performance last time out. In expecting a bounce-back effort, we're leaning toward JJ and the Jays.
MLB Picks: We'll take Toronto at the -145 offered at TheGreek for our free MLB pick for Tuesday.
Monday's Series Opener
By: Ron Patrick
Sox-Jays MLB Betting Odds
The early MLB odds for Monday's game, with longtime former Chicago southpaw Mark Buehrle going for the Jays against Gavin Floyd for the Sox, opened at around Toronto -140 or so, and that figured had held fairly steady.
The total on Monday's game sat at nine.
Sox-Jays Series Set-Up
Toronto just took two of three games from the Royals in Kansas City, missing out on the sweep by falling Sunday 3-2.
The bigger news to come out of that series was the ugly ankle injury suffered by newcomer Jose Reyes.
The former Met sparkplug was hitting .395 and had an OBP of .465, but reports indicate he's now out of action until the All-Star break.
Chicago just snapped a five-game losing streak with a 3-1 win at Cleveland Sunday. Still, the White Sox have scored a total of 13 runs over their last five games.
So the Jays are 2.5 games out of first place in the AL East, while Chicago is two games out of first in the Central.
Monday's Pitching Match-Up
Buehrle went 13-13 with a 3.74 ERA last year for a poor Miami Marlins team that finished 24 games under .500. But in his first season with Toronto Buehrle is off to an awful start. In his season debut the veteran lefty got tagged for six runs and seven hits in 5-plus innings against Cleveland, then gave up five ER and seven hits in four-plus innings versus Detroit.
So that's 11 ER allowed and 14 hits in less than 10 innings for Buehrle so far.
Monday will mark Buehrle's first-ever start against his former team.
Floyd went 12-11 with a 4.29 ERA last year, then started this year with a quality outing, limiting KC to two runs and four hits through six innings of a game the Sox eventually lost 3-1.
But last time out Floyd got nicked for five runs and nine hits in 5 1/3 innings of a 5-2 loss to Washington.
Floyd started twice against Toronto last year, and picked up two victories by holding the Jays to three ER and 12 hits through 13 2/3 innings.
Chicago took the season series from Toronto last year six games to four. Also, six of those 10 games played UNDER on the totals, because, from what we can tell, the linesmakers over-estimated Sox-Jays totals. The O/U in last year's series were regularly listed at nine, 9.5 and even 10, but the teams had trouble topping those numbers.
Sox-Jays Betting Trends
Chicago is 4-8 on the OVER/UNDERS this season, mainly because the Sox are averaging just 3.5 runs per game.
Toronto is 7-5 on the totals, in part because Jays pitching owns a 4.83 ERA.
Sox-Jays Injury Report
Chicago is playing without IF Gordon Beckham, who's on the DL with a broken wrist.
On the other side of the scorebook Toronto is not only now without Reyes, but IF Brett Lawrie hasn't played yet this year, as he deals with some sore ribs.
Free MLB Pick for Monday
Buehrle has been lousy so far this season, but Chicago is having problems scoring runs. So that particular battle looks like a wash.
Floyd had success against Toronto last year, and won't have to deal with Reyes. So we're leaning toward the Sox to take this series opener Monday, at an underdog price.
Pick: Take Chicago at the +125 offered at Bovada.Baseball bettors should re-visit this page as this series progresses for updated information and more free picks.