Rays to Provide Straight Up Underdog Money

Jason Lake

Sunday, April 9, 2017 1:44 PM UTC

Sunday, Apr. 9, 2017 1:44 PM UTC

The Toronto Blue Jays are on the decline in the American League East. Are you ready to start putting the Tampa Bay Rays back in your baseball picks? You should be.

The Toronto Blue Jays still look like a pretty good baseball team. They’ve got one of the better pitching staffs in the majors, and pitching is the most important thing to get right, hands down. But Toronto’s batting order has a big hole in the middle where Edwin Encarnacion (.886 OPS last year) used to stand. He’s in Cleveland now, and the Jays are likely to take a step back in the AL East as a result.

That’s great news for the Tampa Bay Rays. They’re entering Year Three of their rebuilding project following the departure of former GM Andrew Friedman to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Tampa Bay’s still working with a low payroll, but they’ve got some talented youngsters in the pipe, and they might be the right MLB pick for Sunday’s matinee (1:10 p.m. ET) against the visiting Jays. As we go to press, the Rays are slight +100 underdogs with a total of 7.5 runs.

Deuces Up

We’re in the No. 2 spot in the rotation for both teams. The Jays plan to send Marco Estrada (4.15 FIP) to the mound, while Jake Odorizzi (4.31 FIP) is due up for the Rays. FiveThirtyEight likes both pitchers somewhat, but even though they prefer Estrada, our beloved statheads think home-field advantage will be more important in this matchup. They project Tampa to win 51-percent of the time.

So there you have it: The MLB odds are titled too far toward Toronto, just as we suspected. The Jays (89-73 SU, –9.19 betting units last year) are a “sell high” team, and the Rays (68-94 SU, –30.12 units) are “buy low” at this point. Both pitchers have performed well against each other’s team, so there’s nothing particular in this matchup that gives us reason to stray from simple market principles – not when the data backs us up. Let’s see if Tampa can win this flip for a small sum.

Free MLB Pick: Rays +102
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle

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