The first week of the regular season is in the books and Toronto has gotten off to a great start with four wins in its first two series, taking two of three against Cleveland (on the road) and Boston (at home).
Toronto has been annointed as a team to watch for MLB betting sharps and while it’s still too early in the season to jump the gun, it has to be encouraging for Blue Jays fans to see how they have played over the first six games.
The Blue Jays won’t be leaving Toronto this week as they welcome Baltimore and Tampa Bay to the Rogers Center. Here’s a look at those series before the first pitch is thrown.
(Betting preview provided by Bodog Canada)
Baltimore Orioles, Friday April 13th – Sunday April 15th
Following an afternoon win over the Red Sox on Wednesday, the Blue Jays get a day off on Thursday before taking on the Orioles on Friday. The Orioles offer some great MLB betting value but that’s because they’re a bad team. They have some young pieces but the Orioles are at least two seasons away from seriously competing in the East.
Friday’s pitching matchup tentatively features Brandon Morrow getting the ball in his first start at home in 2012 and the Orioles will counter with Tommy Hunter. Morrow took a no-decision in a 7-4 extra-inning win in Cleveland by giving up just one hit over seven innings and that one hit was a two-run homer. The Blue Jays need Morrow to step up and grab the No. 2 spot behind Ricky Romero in the rotation because he has the stuff to be an ace on any staff but hasn’t been consistent. Hunter is in his first full season in Baltimore after coming over from Texas where he showed promise with a 13-4 record in 2010.
Saturday’s afternoon matinee will see Joel Carreno on the mound against the Orioles’ Jason Hammel, who spent the last four seasons in Colorado, but he started off his career in Tampa Bay, so he is familiar with the AL East. He’s got a career 7.94 ERA at Rogers Centre while giving up a .435 batting average to the Jays in his two starts there.
Carreno was good but not great in taking the loss as the Blue Jays fell 4-3 in Cleveland and he gave up a pair of homers while walking four batters. He’ll likely be sent back down to the minors soon, so check the matchups on the MLB betting lines in case there’s a pitching change here.
The finale on Sunday afternoon pits Henderson Alvarez against Baltimore’s Brian Matusz. Alvarez was impressive in a 4-2 loss against Boston, earning a no-decision. He has added a couple miles per hour to his fastball, which will make his already-deadly off-speed pitches even better. Matusz is a 25-year-old southpaw with plenty of promise trying to stick with the big club.
Toronto has won seven of their last 10 at the old SkyDome against the Orioles and the betting lines should favor them in this series.
Tampa Bay Rays, Tuesday April 17th – Thursday April 19th
The Rays will be next to visit the Great White North and before the Blue Jays attempt to challenge the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees, they’ll have to get past the Rays, who could be the surprise team in the division. Although, it’s hard to call them a surprise as they have the pedigree and are genuinely a good team under manager Joe Maddon, who may be the best in the majors.
The series starts next Tuesday with three evening games beginning with Kyle Drabek taking on Jeff Niemann, who is unspectacularly steady, which is what the Rays need from their No. 5 starter. If only Drabek could be that consistent, Toronto’s MLB betting chances would improve immensely. He was very good in a 7-3 win against Boston but Drabek still threw 91 pitches in 5.1 innings and that’s far too much. Like Morrow, Drabek has the stuff to be a big league starter but he has to prove that he has the mental makeup.
Chances are good that Toronto fans will see Romero and Morrow close out the series against the Rays, who will likely send out David Price against Romero in a meeting of All-Stars. Price dominates the Blue Jays with a career 2.06 ERA and 1.00 WHIP in 12 career starts.
Jeremy Hellickson was hit in batting practice on Wednesday, so double-check that he can still take his turn in the rotation.
Toronto has lost six of their last 10 at the Rogers Center against the Rays, but it’s a new season and anything is possible for the Blue Jays.