Baltimore Orioles vs. Toronto Blue Jays Wild Card Preview and Pick
The bad blood in the AL East officially stretches into the 2016 MLB playoffs on Tuesday night, as the Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays face off one last time to see who advances to round two.
The two teams present potent offenses that both went 89-73 through MLB’s rigorous 162-game season, while they faced off 19 times in 2016, with Toronto having the narrowest of upper hands with a 10-9 advantage.
During those games, the home team barely won out, with the Orioles going 5-4 in their own park and the Jays standing firm at 6-4 at theirs. It’s in Toronto where we’ll see these two offensive juggernauts (1,503 total runs, combined) face off.
This is the big time, as the Orioles see the magic that won them a World Series back in 1983, while the Jays hope to pick off where they left off in 2015 after reaching the ALCS.
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) October 4, 2016
Tillman vs. Stroman
Baltimore will lean on top ace Chris Tillman (16-6, 140 strikeouts, 3.77 ERA) when the Orioles head to the Rogers Centre to wage war with Marcus Stroman (9-10, 166 strikeouts, 4.37 ERA) and the Jays.
AL wild-card starters-
Marcus Stroman vs BAL in 2016: 7.04 ERA, 1.61 WHIP, 3.0 K/BB
Chris Tillman vs TOR in 2016: 3.63 / 1.30 / 1.8
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 3, 2016
Tillman has not fared well on the road against the Blue Jays, sporting a terrible 7.01 ERA and a 2-6 record at the Rogers Centre throughout his 8-year MLB career. Tillman has been solid on the road in general in 2016, however, going 8-3 with a strong 2.97 ERA. He’s specifically been rock solid against Toronto this year, as well, notching one win and no losses in four trips to the mound.
The playoffs are not a familiar spot for Tillman in general, as he’s only pitched in two MLB postseason games during his career – both of which came in 2014. He delivered mixed results during that run, as he pitched well in a win against the Detroit Tigers, but fell apart against the Kansas City Royals in the ALCS.
Stroman doesn’t look a whole lot better by comparison, while it’s fair to say he’s not Toronto’s top arm. He’s just 4-3 at home this year, is a lackluster 1-2 against these very Orioles and like Tillman, owns just two MLB playoff appearances to his name.
Both Stroman and Tillman are fully capable of pitching well, but neither have great post-season experience and also have been known to implode in the past. Tillman is enjoying quite arguably his best season as a pro, having tied his career high in wins (2013) this season.
Jays vs. Orioles – Offense
The pitching is not amazing here. Baltimore does offer up their top arm, but that’s not saying a whole lot with Tillman, who has not really been in top form lately (0-1 with 7 earned runs in his last three starts). The same goes for Stroman, who actually hasn’t notched a single win (0-5) since August 14th.
Suffice to say, there is a very good chance we see one or both of these pitchers buckle in a bad way in this one. Baltimore and Toronto were both very good teams this year and when they’re clicking with the bats, they’re tough to quiet down.
Of the two, the main disadvantage lies with the Orioles, who were just 39-42 on the road in 2016, compared to an elite 50-31 at Camden Yards. Toronto was much more even, posting a similar mark both on the road and away (46-35 at Rogers Centre).
The home/away advantage doubles down for the Jays, but they were surprisingly not the more efficient team of the two. Conventional wisdom suggests the Orioles strikeout a ton and have several batters with weak averages, but it’s actually Toronto that trailed in both departments. Then again, that’s not even something Baltimore fans can take solace in, considering it was so painfully close. In fact, Toronto finished the year with a disgusting 21.9% K rate, but the Orioles were right behind them at 21.7%.
Those weak finishes were good for 9th and 10th in the league (as in worst), respectively.
Baltimore won out when it came to sheer power (1st in all of baseball with 253 home runs), but the Jays were still very high (4th) and actually finished ahead of the Orioles in RBI and runs scored.
The skinny here is that both offenses carry some serious pop and even without home runs, both the Orioles and Jays can slay the ball and put runs on the board. That being said, both offenses can run incredibly cold at times and be taken down with a pile of Ks.
Orioles vs. Blue Jays Betting
Right now betting on the Orioles vs. Blue Jays game seems like a dicey proposition. That seems very much the case when you check out your MLB betting options over at bettings sites like Bovada, who are calling this pretty close to the chest:
- Blue Jays to win -138
- Orioles to win +128
A $100 bet won’t get you very far either way, as that bet would get you just $72.46 extra if you take the Jays and a meager $128 if you bet on the Orioles.
It doesn’t get much better with the Run Line, where Toronto is favored +1.5 (-155), while the Total (8.5) doesn’t offer any upside, either. No matter which way you bet on this game, you’ll have to risk a lot of cash in order to come away with a big payday.
Orioles vs. Blue Jays Prediction
Ultimately, this is basically a pick’em in pretty much every way. Neither of these pitchers are dominant, both offenses can sputter or go nuts and being divisional rivals, these teams know each other very well.
The experts are calling for an explosive, high-scoring game. That’s certainly possible, but if it’s not, it’s tough to ignore the clear closing edge Zach Britton gives the Orioles. If Chris Tillman can put his past failures at Rogers Centre behind him and focus on what got him success in 2016, it’s very possible Toronto’s offense can remain stagnant enough to get Britton in to seal the deal.
Sometimes going down narrative street is the way to go with these wild card games that seem too close to call. Toronto seemingly had their chance last year and blew it, and in 2016 they only regressed. Considering how tight these teams have played each other and how “meh” Marcus Stroman can be, let’s dream big and imagine the possibility of Baltimore going on a deep playoff run.
Pick: Orioles 4, Blue Jays 3
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