With some teams having already wrapped up their first series of the season, and others wrapping them up later today, we are starting to get into the normal flow of the Major League Baseball regular season. It is easy to overreact early in the MLB season, but make sure you leave those overreactions to the fans, as you don’t want to let a small sample size of data fool you into making negative value bets.
When you are handicapping Big League Baseball you want to make sure that you are as informed as possible, which means that whatever happened over the weekend does matter, but you have to be able to keep it in context. Does the Ranger’s 1-2 record mean that they spent more money than any team in history only to still miss the playoffs? Is there any chance that the Tampa Bay Rays are anywhere near as good as they looked sweeping the Baltimore Orioles? Are the Dodgers going to be MLB’s version of the Lakers, where they built a dream team only to underachieve, after watching them drop their series to the Colorado Rockies?
No Power Rankings today, so give us your top team after this weekend. ? pic.twitter.com/M3W1h8Ck0h
— MLB (@MLB) April 11, 2022
Those are all fun storylines to follow for the talking heads in the media, and as a fan, I eat that stuff up. But as a handicapper, I can assure you that the Dodgers are still good, the Rays are great, but they won’t be playing the Orioles for 162 games this season, and while I certainly have my doubts about Texas, they had a tough draw, having to play at Toronto, and a sweep this week over the Rockies would all but erase the memory of their struggles up North. With that, let’s jump right into today’s free Major League Baseball pick, as we head to the Bronx for game 1 of a 4-game series between the New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays.
Toronto Blue Jays (2-1)
The Toronto Blue Jays head to New York fresh off of what I saw as the most entertaining opening weekend series, as they took the 3-game set 2 games to 1 over the Texas Rangers. In game 1, Toronto fell behind 7-0, only to mount a dramatic comeback and win the game, 10-8. In game 2, the Blue Jays again found themselves down early, as they trailed 3-2 in the 3rd inning, before scoring runs in the 4th and 5th, to take the lead and win the game 4-3. In game 3, it was looking like the Jays were going to sweep the Rangers out of the Rogers Centre when they jumped out to a 6-1 lead through 3 innings.
But Toronto got a taste of their own medicine, as the Rangers clubbed their way back into the game, eventually plating 12 runs, and winning the game going away, with a 12-6 final score. We all knew coming into this season that the Jays would swing a heavy bat, and they have done just that, as they lead the majors in slugging percentage, are 2nd in runs scored, and are 3rd in home runs. This team can absolutely hit the ball, the question is, will their pitching staff be able to pitch well enough for them to compete with the top teams in the AL East this season?
Some play for the Green Jacket.
We play for one that’s more fun ? pic.twitter.com/OoXhc2kFSV
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) April 10, 2022
Toronto lost last year’s AL CY Young Award winner when Robbie Ray took his talents to Seattle, and they also had to fill the hole left with the departure of their 5th starter Ross Stripling. They did a respectable job filling in for those missing pieces, as they added Kevin Gausman, who had a career year last year in the National League for the San Francisco Giants, and they added Yusei Kikuchi, who, while he has been inconsistent, did make the All-Star team last year when he was with Seattle.
It is a retooled rotation and the Blue Jay’s ability to get enough guys out, to allow their hard-hitting bats to win them a bunch of games, will be a major factor in just how far the Blue Jays can go this season. One guy that we haven’t talked about yet, that I see as the true X-factor for the Blue Jays rotation, is tonight’s starter, Alek Manoah.
Last year when Alek Manoah made his Big League debut, I texted a buddy of mine that is a diehard Tampa Bay Rays fan, and I told him that he better watch out, as this kid is going to be the best pitcher in the AL East, and in a hurry! At the time he laughed, which was certainly understandable, as Manoah hadn’t even thrown a pitch in the show yet, but when the 23-year old finished his season with a 9-2 record, 3.22 ERA, and a K/9 ratio of double-digits, I was quickly proven right, as this kid is a stud.
This season, Manoah is looking to build on last year’s strong campaign, and he should be able to do so a bit under the radar as the Jay’s number 4 guy behind Gausman, Hyun Jin Ryu, and Jose Berrios. In terms of raw skill, Manoah might be the best of the group, and now that he is surrounded by veterans that know how to pitch at a high level and get guys out in the majors, I see him only getting better from here on out!
Spring training is spring training, and I never put too much emphasis on those results, but it is impossible to ignore how sharp Manoah was in 4 starts in camp for Toronto, as he posted a 0.64 ERA across 14 innings of work. When Manoah ends this season getting Cy Young Award votes, remember that you heard it at TheSportsGeek first!
Today’s Starting Pitching Matchup
New York Yankees (2-1)
The New York Yankees nearly swept the Boston Red Sox in their opening series, taking the first 2 games of the 3-game set, and losing by just a single run in a tightly contested affair on Sunday Night Baseball last night. The Bronx Bombers are expected to compete at the top of the AL East Division this year, and these early season divisional games are going to go a long way toward deciding which of these teams will emerge as the alpha dogs of the best division in baseball.
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) April 11, 2022
One guy that Yankees fans are happy to see playing well early in the season is slugger Giancarlo Stanton. Stanton is a prolific power hitter, but he has been slowed by injuries since joining New York back in 2018.
After playing 158 games in his first season in the Big Apple, he played just 41 games in 2019 and 2020 combined, and last year, while he was mostly healthy, he did still manage to miss 22 games. Against Boston, Giancarlo picked up 5 hits, including 2 bombs, and while the strikeouts are still there, he whiffed in 5 of his 13 at-bats, he looks healthy and is swinging the bat well right now, which has to be encouraging for the Yankee faithful.
Will Jameson Taillon ever live up to the hype from when he was the number 2 overall pick back in 2010? Taillon was seen as a potential All-Star level starter when the Pirates took him in the 1st round, and after making his Major League debut in 2016 with Pittsburgh, he was always decent, but was never the savior of the franchise that people were expecting. Taillon missed all of 2020 and when the Yankees brought him in last season to eat up innings at the back end of their rotation, they did so in hopes that he would be able to finally live up to his potential.
Taillon was a bit better than an inning eater last year for the Yanks, but not much better, as he posted an 8-6 record and 4.30 ERA, the 2nd highest of his career. Pitching remains a huge concern for New York, as outside of Gerrit Cole, the rest of the Yankee’s rotation is shaky.
Luis Severino hasn’t pitched in years after injuries derailed his once-promising career, Jordan Montgomery stinks and is already hurt, and while Nestor Cortes looked solid last year splitting time between the rotation and the bullpen for New York, I am not sure that his production is sustainable. That makes Taillon’s ability to pitch well a key for New York this season.
Toronto Blue Jays vs New York Yankees Betting Odds And Team Statistics
The following odds are courtesy of BetOnline:
|Teams||Money line||Total||Run Line|
|Toronto Blue Jays||(+100)||Over 9 (-110)||+1.5 (-189)|
|New York Yankees||(-120)||Under 9 (-110)||-1.5 (+160)|
|Team Data||Toronto Blue Jays||New York Yankees|
|Runs Per Game||6.66||4.33|
|Runs Against Per Game||7.66||3.66|
|Hits Per Game||9.33||8.00|
|K’s Per Game||9.33||9.67|
Toronto Blue Jays vs New York Yankees Prediction:
These AL East Division games are going to be an absolute war this season. When you look at the best teams in the American League, the Yankees, Red Sox, Rays, and Blue Jays are all in the conversation, and while teams like the Astros and White Sox are going to be very good as well, if and when the AL Pennant winner comes out of the East, don’t be surprised.
This line opened up with the Yankees laying (-115) and for the most part, it has stayed put. Some books have adjusted it slightly towards New York, with the current consensus line having the Yankees at (-120), but the public seems to be split on this game. And while the public isn’t sure of which side to back, I am, as I love a play on Toronto as underdogs!
Toronto Blue Jays vs New York Yankees Betting Trends:
- The total has gone OVER in 4 of Toronto’s last 5 games
- Toronto is 5-1 SU in their last 6 games
- Toronto is 5-2 SU in their last 7 games against NY Yankees
- The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Toronto’s last 5 games on the road
- Toronto is 7-1 SU in their last 8 games when playing on the road against NY Yankees
- NY Yankees is 11-5 SU in their last 16 games
- The total has gone UNDER in 6 of NY Yankees’ last 9 games at home
- NY Yankees is 1-7 SU in their last 8 games when playing at home against Toronto
- NY Yankees is 11-5 SU in their last 16 games against an opponent in the American League
- The total has gone UNDER in 13 of NY Yankees’ last 20 games against an opponent in the American League East Division division
From a very high level, in a game that could go either way like this one, you are always going to want to be on the side getting the juice, not laying it. So, just based on the math, a play on the Blue Jays shows some value. But if I were setting this line, I would actually have the Blue Jays as favorites, as they can clearly hit the baseball, and Alek Manoah has elite swing and miss stuff, and with the Yankee’s propensity to strike out a lot, that does not bode well for them tonight.
118 MPH exit velo.
A CAREER-LONG 467 feet.
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) April 10, 2022
I try to never overvalue the starting pitching matchup in a game, and that is particularly true early in the season when these guys aren’t stretched out yet and won’t be in the game for all that long. But Alek Manoah is going to be an All-Star this year, and Jameson Taillon is going to be lucky if he just ends the year still pitching in the starting rotation for New York. The Blue Jays have hammered starting pitching so far this season, as they have scored 12 runs in 12 innings against starters, and I expect them to jump all over Jameson Taillon tonight in the Bronx.
Give me the Toronto Blue Jays as road underdogs in this one, as they take an early lead, and ride a strong outing from Alen Manoah to their 3rd win in 4 games to start the season. Sometimes when you take dogs, you are taking them based on their long-term probability and value, and sometimes you get a chance to take a dog that should have been a favorite. You can never convince me that the Blue Jays aren’t the better side of this matchup and the fact that I can get them with some dog money shows outrageous value!