Blue Jays vs. Rays AL Pick – MLB April 3rd

Baseball season is back and I couldn’t be more thrilled. MLB has been an ATM machine for me for the greater part of the last five years. I hope to duplicate that success with another quality year betting on the bases. I mention this note every year with baseball, but here it goes again. Do not go crazy and lose your bankroll over the first week of the season. The MLB schedule is long and grueling, with many opportunities to cash in. You have to pick your spots with betting baseball. Betting every game is a recipe for a big disaster.

In every sport, a lot of people go nuts on the opening day or week and end up getting buried before the season even begins. With baseball, it’s even more important, as this is a schedule with 162 games for each team, and that isn’t including the postseason. There will be baseball to bet on during the day and at night. Keep things in perspective and maintain solid bankroll management throughout the season.

Now with that out of the way, let’s get going into the 2016 MLB campaign. I don’t know about you guys, but it feels like the World Series finished up a couple weeks. It certainly doesn’t feel like I’ve had any break in handicapping baseball. I have been staying on top of things in the offseason, though, and have been prepping for the season for quite some time, so maybe that is why I’m getting that feeling. There is no rest for the best handicappers, just like there is no rest for the best players.

This is the first Sunday that I can recall three games taking place on the first day of the season. Perhaps I’m being ignorant, but the first Sunday has always been a Sunday night game only. There is a Sunday night game, with the Mets and Royals in a rematch of the World Series. But for the purposes of day 1, we’re going to head out to Florida for a matchup between the Toronto Blue Jays and Tampa Bay Rays. Note that I will be covering the American League this season. Chris will be on top of the National League. Read on below to find my first pick for the 2016 MLB schedule.

Toronto Blue Jays vs. Tampa Bay Rays

Marcus Stroman (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Chris Archer (0-0, 0.00)

Opening days always feature the marquee starters on every team. Taking the mound for the first game is always an honor. Two young and talented hurlers will get the chance today for the Jays and Rays. With the rental on David Price expiring in the offseason, the Blue Jays turn to Marcus Stroman to be the ace of the staff. The regular season was cut short for Stroman a year ago, as he headed to the 60-day DL in April. It was a major blow to the Blue Jays’ rotation, as Stroman hoped to be a force on the mound in Toronto. The Jays were fortunate enough to get him back in September, where he had some time to shake off some rust for the postseason. He pitched spectacularly during that time, posting a 1.67 ERA and record of 4-0. In 27 innings pitched, he allowed just 5 runs.

Needless to say, a lot of eyes were on Stroman this spring training. The guy delivered in excellent fashion, finishing exhibition baseball with a 1.98 ERA. If he can stay healthy, you’re going to hear his name often this year. The Blue Jays are going to be able to hit and Stroman should pitch well, so this season is going to be dictated by the back end of the rotation for the Blue Jays and bullpen. The Jays brought back J.A. Happ after time spent in Seattle and Pittsburgh to try and provide a quality arm on the staff. Offensively, the Blue Jays are pretty well the same offense from last season. The future will get dicey, with Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion heading for free agency, but for 2016, the meat of the Blue Jays lineup is still in-tact.

The Rays have some depth in the rotation, spearheaded by righty Chris Archer. Archer had a productive 2015, with a 3.23 ERA and 1.14 WHIP. He has also done considerably well against a stacked Blue Jays offense, posting a 3.26 ERA and WHIP of 1.14, nearly identical to his yearly numbers from 2015. The Blue Jays and Rays were identical during spring training with respects to batting average. Both clubs finished with an average of 2.69 for 17th and 18th in MLB. I see Stroman and Archer coming to play tonight on day 1. I think it lends itself to a low-scoring pitching duel. The Blue Jays are going to find their runs this season, but Archer at home slows them down in the opener.

PICK: UNDER 7 RUNS (-105)

Kyle E / Author

Kyle is a veteran of The Sports Geek and has spent nearly a decade providing accurate sports picks and writeups here. He has been a sports handicapper for 10+ years and started sharing his picks and thoughts in 2011 at The Sports Geek. His expertise spans across multiple sports, including the NFL, NCAAF, MLB, and the NHL. Prior to writing for The Sports Geek, Kyle was a fantasy football expert, who ultimately parlayed it into a successful sports betting career. You can find his picks daily at The Sports Geek.