Red Sox’s Chris Sale Could Lock Up All-Star Start by Dominating Jays

Matthew Jordan

Friday, June 30, 2017 4:52 PM UTC

Friday, Jun. 30, 2017 4:52 PM UTC

The MLB All-Star Game is less than two weeks away, and Boston ace Chris Sale could all but wrap up being named the AL’s starting pitcher by dominating the Blue Jays in Toronto on Saturday (1:07 p.m. ET).

MLB Season Record: 26-18

Boston Red Sox At Toronto Blue Jays (+144, 8.5)

The first game on MLB’s schedule Saturday is a 1:07 p.m. ET first pitch from the Rogers Centre as the Blue Jays host the Red Sox in Game 2 of a three-game set. It’s on the MLB Network.

I think it’s fair to say the next week or so could determine the Blue Jays’ direction this season. They reached the ALCS the past two years but are stuck in the AL East basement. At the same time, Toronto is still within striking distance of the division lead and in the wild-card chase. But how realistic would it be for the team to reach the playoffs if it hasn’t gotten over .500 once all season? Amazingly, the Jays have lost nine straight games this season when having a chance to reach .500 for the first time and been outscored 73-24 in them.

Following this Red Sox series, the Blue Jays play three at the Yankees and then host the American League’s best team, Houston, for four next weekend. If Toronto isn’t right around .500 by that point, the front office might opt to become a seller ahead of the trade deadline because the schedule out of the All-Star break is murderous: three at Detroit, four at Boston and three in Cleveland. The Blue Jays have the sixth-highest payroll in the majors and their farm system has been weakened by recent trades so the best bet could be to cut some payroll and land prospects.

The Red Sox clearly will be buyers ahead of the trade deadline and could look to upgrade at third base and with an arm. Both the Yankees and Red Sox reportedly are eyeing Marlins infielder Martin Prado and Oakland ace Sonny Gray. The Red Sox traded third baseman Travis Shaw to the Brewers this past offseason and that decision has blown up in Boston’s face. Shaw is having a monster season, while the guy the Sox got back, reliever Tyler Thornburg, is out for the year before throwing a single pitch. The Sox remain -115 favorites on MLB futures to win the AL East. They’ll win it.


Saturday’s Probable Pitchers

Should the Blue Jays shift into seller mode, one guy who would surely be moved and have decent value would be lefty Francisco Liriano, who takes the mound today. He was acquired last summer from Pittsburgh and will become a free agent after this season. With a 4-3 record, 5.46 ERA and 1.61 WHIP, Liriano’s value is a bit down right now, but lefties always are in demand and he can pitch in relief.

Liriano does come off a quality start and win in Kansas City, going six innings and allowing two runs. He faced Boston on April 19 and it was the only outing this year where Liriano didn’t allow a run: He went 5.1 innings and surrendered four hits in the victory. The Jays won 3-0 on three unearned runs. Dustin Pedroia has faced Liriano more than any Boston batter and is 6-for-14.

Sox lefty Chris Sale (10-3, 2.77) is the -165 Cy Young favorite and appears to be in line to start for the American League in the All-Star Game if he closes the first half strong – a huge game here could clinch it. Sale has five straight quality starts and leads the AL in innings (113.2), strikeouts (155) and WHIP (0.91). He’s the first pitcher to reach 10 wins within his first 16 career appearances for Boston since Josh Beckett in 2006.

Sale’s lone start vs. Toronto was on the road April 20 and he threw eight shutout innings with 13 strikeouts and four hits allowed. However, the bullpen blew the game and Sale ended up with a no-decision. The Jays’ Josh Donaldson has had some success off Sale with two homers and six RBIs in 18 at-bats. Jose Bautista is 1-for-11 with six Ks off Sale.


Reasoning For Pick

It’s Chris Sale! What other reason do I need? The Jays are just 2-9 in their past 11 at home vs. lefties. If you want more bang for your buck, do a parlay MLB pick including the ‘under.’ It’s 5-1 in the past six meetings and the trends lean heavy to the ‘under’ for Toronto dating to last season against southpaws.

Free MLB Pick: Red Sox -154 & ‘Under’ 8.5Best Line Offered: BetOnline

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