Assessing Blue Jays With Stretch Of Winnable Games Coming

Assessing Blue Jays With Stretch Of Winnable Games Coming
By Mark Keast
Fact Checked by Jim Tomlin

Perhaps Toronto Blue Jays manager John Schneider said it best after Thursday night’s 5-3 loss to the first-place Baltimore Orioles.

The loss meant that Toronto went a paltry 3-10 against Baltimore this season, with the season series having concluded. And it meant that the Blue Jays are 9.5 games back of the Orioles in the American League East heading into Friday’s action. But what’s also worrying – for Jays fans and the team’s backers at Ontario sportsbooks – is that the team’s wild card chances are slipping away as well. The Jays (70-58) are 1.5 games behind the Houston Astros for the last spot there. 

So Schneider, in his conference after last night’s game, told the media, “There’s no time to wait. We’ve got to do it right … now.”

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Offense Still Not Totally Clicking

That starts with the hitting, which has been the source of their struggles all season.

But this season, Toronto is 18th in MLB in home runs with 148, 16th in runs scored (4.45 per game) and 13th in OPS, which is slugging percentage and on-base percentage combined (.741 average).

The Blue Jays win total betting in the preseason set their over/under at 91.5 or 92 wins. Going into Friday, they were 70-58 for a .547 winning percentage, on pace for 88.5 wins.

In the middle of the offensive woes is Vlad Guerrero Jr., who’s hitting .268, with 18 homers and 73 RBIs. There has been a bump in his average over the past 15 games (he’s hitting .304 in that span), but the lack of power numbers has been glaring. Guerrero Jr. has one homer in August. And for a team that traded away a lot of its home run power before the season, opting for improved defence, that’s not going to cut it.

Matt Chapman (.248, 15 HRs, 49 RBIs) has also noticeably slowed production at the plate as of late, but this has been a team-wide issue for the bulk of the season, Bo Bichette aside. Alejandro Kirk (.244, six HRs, 30 RBIs), after showing some signs of life at the plate in July, also seems to be dipping back into his earlier season doldrums.

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Toronto Blue Jays 2023 Odds

BetMGM Ontario Sportsbook has dropped the Jays odds of winning the division to +2000, from +1600 last week. The Boston Red Sox – just two games back of the Jays now – went from +25000 last week to +15000 this week. Odds for Baltimore to win the division are currently -300.

The good news is the Jays have Chris Bassitt starting tonight against the Cleveland Guardians (60-68) at Rogers Centre. Bassitt is 12-6 with a 3.92 ERA, part of a pitching staff that’s the best in MLB in team ERA (3.68). Game time is 7:07 p.m. The Guardians are countering with RHP Tanner Bibee (9-3, 3.01 ERA).

Cleveland has lost two in a row after being swept by the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Guardians are six games behind the Minnesota Twins in the AL Central, and 11.5 out of the final wild card spot, so their season is slipping away fast. 

Bibee, a rookie, is for real, but this weekend’s three-game series – and the following one with the Washington Nationals – are at home. This starts the opportunity to make hay that Schneider spoke about. Both the Nationals and Guardians have losing records.

In fact, tonight starts a 15-game stretch in which Ontario sports betting apps are very likely to list the Jays as favorites on a daily basis.

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Stretch Of Bad Opponents Coming

After the three-games sets at home against Cleveland and Washington, Toronto has a three-game series at Colorado, another at Oakland, then three back at home against Kansas City. All five of those teams have losing records. Even more tempting from a betting perspective, the A’s Royals and Rockies are the three worst teams in MLB heading into Friday.

Schneider is right – if the Jays are going to surge ahead of the pack, at least in the AL wild card race, they have to do it right now.

Tonight, NorthStar Bets Ontario Sportsbook has the Moneyline at Jays -165, Guardians +138, and the Runline is Jays -1.5 (+130), Cleveland +1.5 (-157). The Over 8.5 is -104, Under 8.5 is -118.



Mark Keast has recently covered the sports betting industry in Canada for The Parleh, and is a long-time sportswriter and editor, most notably with the Toronto Sun.

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