Have recent trade moves affected our MLB picks for Royals vs. Blue Jays in the first of four games? KC just added an big arm and a bat, while Toronto just added an All-star shortstop.
Royals-Blue Jays Thursday Betting Odds
As of early Thursday morning the best price we could find on Toronto and Marco Estrada was the -135 offered at GT Bets, while Kansas City and Danny Duffy were getting +131 at 5Dimes. And the vast majority of the MLB betting market was posting a total on tonight's game of 8.5 runs.
Toronto just split two games with Philadelphia this week, winning Wednesday 8-2, as newly acquired SS Troy Tulowitzki rapped out a pair of doubles and a homer in his first game for his new team. So the Jays are 2-1-1 over their last four series, 6-5 over their last 11 games.
At 51-51 Toronto apparently thinks it's a contender; the Jays trail the first-place Yankees by seven games in the AL East, but sit just two games behind Minnesota, which owns the second American League wild-card at the moment.
Kansas City just took two of three games at Cleveland this week, missing the sweep by losing Wednesday 12-1. Just before that the Royals took two of three from Houston. So KC has won six series in a row, and 16 of its last 22 games.
At 61-39 KC leads the second-place Twins by nine games in the AL Central, and the Yankees by four games in the battle for the best record in the American League.
The Royals made a big splash recently by adding Johnny Cueto to their starting rotation, and also just acquired utility-man Ben Zobrist. Cueto may start Friday, while Zobrist might be in the lineup tonight.
This is the second series between these teams this season; back about three weeks ago KC took two of three games from the Jays at Kauffman Stadium.
Thursday's Pitching Match-Up
Tonight's arms battle is a rematch of the opener of that series in KC three weeks ago, a 3-0 Royals victory.
Estrada (7-6, 3.55) is finding some new life with his new team. He's seven-for-15 on quality starts this season, to go along with a handful of appearances in relief, and two for his last three. Last Saturday Seattle got him for five runs in four innings, but over his two starts previous to that he held these Royals and Tampa to two runs through 14 2/3 innings. On the season the former Brewer has allowed fewer hits, 85, than innings pitched, 99, walked 32 and struck out 78.
Toronto is 7-8 in Estrada's starts, with the totals going 8-7.
In his only career start against Kansas City, back on July 10, Estrada gave up two runs and nine hits through 6 2/3 innings of that 3-0 Blue Jays loss.
Duffy (4-4, 4.03) is just five-for-14 on quality starts, but working on a string of four in a row. Last Sunday he held Houston to one run through six innings, and over his last four starts he's limited opponents to just four runs through 26 1/3 innings. For the season Duffy has allowed 78 hits through 76 innings, while his K/BB ratio sits at a rather pedestrian 48/29.
The Royals are 9-5 in Duffy's starts, with the totals going 6-8.
Duffy hadn't started against Toronto since 2012 until back on July 10, when he tossed six innings of four-hit, shutout ball, with zero strikeouts and three walks, in that 3-0 Kansas City victory.
Thursday's Batting Splits
Kansas City ranks fourth in the Bigs this season against right-handed pitching with a .272 team batting average, and eighth in team on-base percentage at .323.
Toronto, meanwhile, leads the Majors against left-handed pitching with both a .289 average and a .359 team OBP.
Ballpark Totals Factor
The UNDERS are 28-19 in games played at Rogers Centre this year, even though those games are averaging 9.3 runs per, sixth-most among all ML ballparks.
Do note before placing your MLB picks that Kansas City is playing without OF Alex Gordon (11 HR, .394 OBP), who's on the DL with a pulled groin On the other side of the scorebook Toronto 2B Devon Travis (eight homers, .361 OBP) is very iffy for Thursday with a sore shoulder, and 1B Edwin Encarnacion (19 HR) is questionable with a bad finger.
Royals-Jays Thursday Free Picks
We'll call the pitching match-up a wash, and while KC owns an edge in the bullpen comparison, Toronto owns an edge with the sticks. That being said, we believe the addition of Tulowitzki might give the Jays an emotional boost, so we'll take Toronto on the side. Also, we could easily see this game getting to 5-4, so we're thinking OVER.
MLB Picks: Blue Jays -135 at GT Bets and OVER 8.5 runs (-108) at Pinnacle