The Toronto Blue Jays made it, and not only did they make it, they are hosting the Wild Card Game in the first round of the MLB Postseason. The Wild Card Round is a do-or-die scenario, a play-in game to go to the Divisional Round. The Toronto Blue Jays will open it up in front of a raucous crowd at Rogers Centre. The atmosphere was electric in Toronto for the playoffs last year, notably their little date with the Texas Rangers. If you recall, the infamous Jose Bautista bat toss was born. Also, beer cans and other assortments of garbage were thrown on the field after a horrible call by the umps. The Blue Jays were getting the bad end of the stick all postseason, which continued against the Royals, all the way to the final out on a called “strike”.
This season the Blue Jays are going to need to do it the harder way by winning the Wild Card Game. The Jays won the American League East last season, so they didn’t have to worry about this game. Nevertheless, a win might be able to prove a positive if they could ride the confidence into the next round. The Baltimore Orioles grabbed the final wildcard, edging out the Detroit Tigers in the postseason chase. The Orioles wrapped the deal up with a win on Sunday with a victory over the Yankees. The Jays also won their matchup against the Red Sox to earn their right to play in this game. Detroit botched their opportunity, losing 1-0 to the lowly Braves. It wouldn’t have mattered anyway, because the Orioles and Blue Jays both won.
There was no doubt that the Blue Jays were making the postseason a year ago. This season the Jays stumbled their way into the Wild Card Round. They are certainly lucky to be playing in this game. The Blue Jays only won nine games in the month of September. Glad it was over, the Jays are 2-0 in October with wins against the Red Sox, critical wins at a critical point to make it to this game against the Orioles. It all comes down to this, win or you’re out. Find my first pick of the MLB Postseason below in the American League Wild Card Game.
Baltimore Orioles vs. Toronto Blue Jays
Chris Tillman (16-6, 3.77 ERA) vs Marcus Stroman (9-10, 4.37 ERA)
Aaron Sanchez pitched a brilliant game to advance to 15-2 on the regular season. Sanchez was the story of the year for the Blue Jays’ pitching staff, and it was the story of Marcus Stroman pitching below expectations which caught a few eyes as well. Basically in a nutshell, Sanchez pitched like Stroman, and Stroman pitched like Sanchez. They completely swapped their pre-season predictions. Stroman gets the call to bring the Blue Jays to the Divisional Round. He posted an ERA of 4.37, after a 1.67 in 2015. However, remember he came back late and only had four starts. Nonetheless, it was expected to carry over into 2016.
Stroman has yielded an ERA of 2.70 in his last three outings, so perhaps, he is just a late bloomer. Even though he hasn’t been at his best in 2016, the Blue Jays still believe in him and he could definitely turn it on for a game of this magnitude. It would not surprise me if he made amends for his less than stellar regular season and came up big against the Orioles in Toronto. The Orioles will respond with Chris Tillman who has been up and down as well. One thing is for certain with him though, he’s liked to play the Blue Jays. In his last two starts against Toronto at the Rogers Centre, he gave up just 1 run and 2 runs on September 28th and July 31st. The OVER looks like it would make the most sense here, but I am seeing a low-scoring game that comes down to 1 run. 4-3 or something similar looks likely.
PICK: UNDER 8.5 RUNS (-110)