The Toronto Blue Jays won in dramatic fashion over the Baltimore Orioles a couple of nights ago. Thanks to a three-run shot by Edwin Encarnacion in extra innings, the Blue Jays are in Texas and ready to play the Texas Rangers. There is some extra drama involved in this series, if I even have to tell you that. This is a rematch of last year’s Divisional Round series, which saw the Blue Jays advancing. The rivalry got some juice after Jose Bautista’s bat flip. And then it came to a head when Bautista was punched in the face by Rougned Odor earlier this summer.
The benches cleared and another interesting chapter in the Blue Jays-Rangers chapter was being written. So, it’s rather fitting that we get more between these two. We get a whole series worth of the Blue Jays and Rangers. I highly doubt it’s going to go without some controversy and more shenanigans. Ratings should be at an all-time high for this series, so I am sure Major League Baseball and the networks aren’t too sad about this matchup.
All eyes are going to be on Odor and Bautista, who were the focal point of the brawl in Texas. A Blue Jays’ fan already tossed a beer at an Orioles’ player in the outfield in the Wild Card Game, it’s going to be interesting what transpires with the fans as well. In any event, at the end of the day, all I’m concerned with is cashing some tickets in this series. If I recall, I made out quite well in the ALDS of 2015 between the Rangers and Blue Jays. We’ll look to do it again in 2016. We got off to a nice start in the MLB Postseason, after we cashed the UNDER 8.5 at the Rogers Centre. Marco Estrada and Cole Hamels will get us started on the mound tonight in Arlington.
Toronto Blue Jays vs. Texas Rangers
Marco Estrada (9-9, 3.48 ERA) vs Cole Hamels (15-5, 3.32 ERA)
Marcus Stroman looked like an ace the other night, and now it’s Marco Estrada’s turn to dazzle on the mound. Estrada has been a bright point of the Blue Jays’ rotation all season long. After two years in Washington, and another five in Milwaukee, Estrada has been playing some of the best baseball of his career in Toronto. He posted an ERA of 3.13 last season in his first year here, a career best. Estrada had another strong year to his credit in 2016 with a 3.48 ERA. He seems to be hitting his peak at the right time, too. In his last three starts, Estrada posted a 0.95 ERA and 0.84 WHIP. Those were some pressure starts too, as the Jays were searching to reach the postseason.
The Rangers will counter with Cole Hamels in Game 1. Hamels was brought to Texas two years ago to contribute to a World Series for the Rangers. Last year things didn’t go according to plan and the Rangers were bounced by the Blue Jays. He has quietly put together a productive campaign with an ERA of 3.32. However, his history against the Blue Jays leaves a lot to be desired. He boasts a 6.97 ERA and 1.94 WHIP against them in four starts. Additionally, he has been worse at home versus on the road in 2016. Hamels holds a 4.40 ERA at home, compared to 2.40 on the road. There is tremendous value to be had with the Blue Jays tonight as a sizable underdog.
PICK: BLUE JAYS TO WIN +129