Our expert handicapper previews this matchup between the Rays and Blue Jays. Find out where the betting value lies before you place your MLB picks.
Tampa Bay Rays (Archer) vs. Toronto Blue Jays (A. Sanchez) (-1 ½ R/+190) 7:05 ET
The Rays and Jays cap off this 4 game, early week set with game 4 at the Toronto Rogers Centre. Tampa Bay won a pair of close contests on Monday and Tuesday by low scoring counts of 2-1 and 3-2. Last night, however, the big Blue Jay bats erupted for a 12-7 victory. Now, the Jays go for the split at home. Last night’s defeat was the first for Tampa Bay following 4 consecutive victories, and tonight they're listed as underdogs on the posted MLB odds.
After an outstanding job as field manager for Tampa Bay, long-time leader, Joe Maddon, is now in charge of the Chicago Cubs. In his place, is first year man, Kevin Cash. Maddon was able to hold the Rays together with chewing gum for several seasons. This included 2012 and 2013, when the Rays had a combined 182 victories that propelled them into the post-season. Last year, however, the rubber band snapped! An early season decline, aided by multiple injuries, resulted in a 77-85 SU mark. Though 5-4 SU this season, it is unlikely they will get to the plus side of .500. If there is a bright light for this team in terms of their pitching staff, it has been the road work of today’s starter, Archer. That is only one segment of the handicap that makes this such a contrary play. History says that Archer should have a strong outing vs. the Jays. In 5 starts against them, he has a 1.84 ERA. But, it is his overall record on the road that will peak the interest of many handicappers. In Archer’s last 14 road starts, he has allowed 3 or less earned runs. The Rays have won 9 of his 10 recent road starts, over which time he has a 1.68 ERA. In addition, Archer is off to a solid start this season with a record of 1-1 but 2.13 ERA.
The Blue Jays’ 5-4 SU record matches that of the Rays. But, the pitching of A. Sanchez is far harder to support. Sanchez made the rotation this month when expected starter, Stroman, went on the DL. But, his first start at Baltimore on Saturday left much to be desired. In a 7-1 loss to the Birds, Sanchez lasted just 3 1/3 IP, allowing 3 runs on 7 hits, including 2 HRs by the big Baltimore bats. Be assured, that in his home debut, he will be highly motivated to match his solid minor league numbers of last year, while proving his worth to the franchise. From a hitting perspective, it will be no surprise if the Blue Jay bats who have already scored 10 or more runs on 3 occasions continue the explosion they began last night. They are the main reason why Toronto played fewer 1-run games than any team in baseball last year. Often that has worked in the favor of Toronto.
Since the beginning of 2014, 73 of 88 Toronto victories (including all 5 this year) have come by 2 or more runs. On this field since the start of 2013, 66 of 87 Toronto home victories have come by 2 or more runs. The Rays are at the other end of the spectrum with 30 of their 42 recent road losses coming by 2 or more runs. It is a big leap to back Sanchez over Archer in this pitching matchup. But lured by the + 90 cent underdog line when laying the runs, it is worth the risk, considering the respective run line histories of these two opponents for our MLB picks.
MLB Pick: Take Toronto Blue Jays