The New York Yankees stroll into the Rogers Centre on Thursday night as they prepare for yet another AL East battle with the Toronto Blue Jays. New York is fresh off of a showdown with the rival Orioles, who they lost to on Wednesday and dropped their latest series, 2-1.
The Yanks could be limping into another big AL East clash here, as New York sports a mediocre 13-12 road record and could have their hands full against a rising Toronto squad that is getting healthy at the right time. The Yankees are still 6-4 over their last 10 games and boast one of the top offenses in the majors, however, so betting against them here feels like a mild risk.
We do need to take Toronto seriously, of course, as the Jays have been mashing the ball lately. This team is as strong as ever with Troy Tulowitzki and Josh Donaldson back in the lineup and bats like Justin Smoak and Jose Bautista staying red hot. The Jays enter this matchup on quite the tear, too, as they’ve secured wins in 8 of their last 10 games, as well as their last three.
Are these teams slowly headed in different directions, or will the superior Yanks push the pause button on Toronto’s rise back up the ranks? Let’s take a look at today’s betting line and see which way MLB bettors may want to lean in this matchup:
New York Yankees(+135)
Toronto Blue Jays(-134)
There is no denying the Jays have a lot going for them headed into this AL East battle. Toronto is scorching hot right now, they’re at home (15-12 at home this year) and they’ll get to face the beatable C.C. Sabathia (5-2, 4.42 ERA). They’ll also get a stable arm of their own in Marco Estrada (4-2, 3.15 ERA), who actually silenced these very Yanks on the road at Yankee Stadium (1 earned run) earlier this year at Yankee Stadium.
At first glance, the Jays look like solid favorites. There might be enough ammunition here to flip the script and back the Yankees, though, especially considering they are in fact the better team and provide serious value with a +135 Moneyline at BetOnline.
But is there enough reason to get behind a Yankees upset beyond their big name? It’s safe to say there is, as Sabathia provides a bad matchup on paper for the Jays, who rank 19th in batting average versus left-handed pitching. They also haven’t really provided a ton of power against southpaws so far in 2017, ranking just 23rd in home runs against lefties.
Those numbers could easily be impacted by the team’s hot run and improved health, but Sabathia still could be a problematic matchup when we look at splits. The 36-year old veteran has also stabilized himself lately, allowing just three combined runs over his last three starts. It’s anyone’s guess if Sabathia’s latest run of success will hold up against one of the hotter offenses in the league, but he’s surely benefited from positive park shifts on the road (3.21 ERA away from the ever hittable Yankee Stadium).
Trusting Sabathia isn’t really the play here. He’s making batters miss (15 Ks over his last two starts) and inducing soft contact, but this isn’t a matchup that offers an easy call on either side. It may be New York’s powerful offense that we need to trust. Estrada worked them over pretty good on the road earlier this year and he’s posted a strong 2.32 ERA at his home base, but a 3.46 ERA against New York over his last 21 frames isn’t exactly elite.
The splits support the Yankees in this spot, as well, as they’ve mashed right-handed pitching all year and currently rank 2nd in batting average against righties and 5th in power (59 home runs).
You can easily make a case for Estrada to shut the Yankees down for the second time or for Sabathia to implode, but stifling this New York offense twice is not an easy task and Sabathia is at least in solid form right now. With the Yankees coming in as clear underdogs, that could make this a terrific spot to saddle up with them and aim high.
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