What a Friday MLB slate to look forward to so far! Another highly anticipated matchup will take place on Friday evening as the Toronto Blue Jays will travel south to Minute Maid Park to battle it out with the Houston Astros. It is about that time once again to take a sneak peek at our MLB odds series, where our Blue Jays-Astros prediction and pick will take place.
Coming into this game at 8-5, Toronto is fresh off a series-clinching win versus the Red Sox by edging them out 3-2 at Fenway Park. The series win was monumental, as winning games in the wild, wild AL East will prove to be beneficial months down the road when playoff implications are at an all-time high. RHP Ross Stripling will attempt to keep the ball rolling after he pitched four innings in his last appearance versus Oakland and didn’t allow a run.
Houston enters play at .500 with a 6-6 record and will counter with future Hall-of-Famer Justin Verlander, who just pitched eight scoreless innings in a 4-0 victory over the Mariners last Saturday. After missing last year due to Tommy John Surgery, the 39-year-old has yet to show any signs of slowing down and should still be considered a top pitcher in all of baseball.
Courtesy of FanDuel, here are the Blue Jays-Astros MLB odds:
MLB Odds: Blue Jays-Astros Odds
Toronto Blue Jays: +1.5 (-142)
Houston Astros: -1.5 (+118)
Over: 8 (-115)
Under: 8 (-105)
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Why The Blue Jays Could Cover the Spread
With this extravagant American League showdown taking place under the lights, who will shine brightest when the Blue Jays need him the most? Of course, there are names like Vladamir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette, but Toronto will have a decent shot at covering the spread if they can get production from guys like Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Matt Chapman to carry the load against Verlander, especially with OF Teoscar Hernandez sidelined with an oblique injury.
Toronto has plenty of weapons to work with offensively, as the Blue Jays currently possess the eighth-best batting average at .252 and are fifth in slugging percentage at .411. One mistake on a pitch to this lineup, and you could be in for a long day on the rubber.
The human Swiss Army knife himself, Ross Stripling has been called upon in many situations, whether asked to start a game or come into a contest as a reliever in the later innings. The former Astro made two starts for Houston last season, going 1-1 with a 4.15 ERA. Already making his second start of the campaign with the Jays, Stripling only surrendered two hits and even struck out a trio of Athletic’s batters in a 4-1 victory. Stripling thrives off weak contact, as he is not necessarily a hurler who relies on throwing it by opposing hitters.
While the Blue Jays may be universally known for their bats, Toronto has supplemented their offense with excellent pitching, as they have only allowed three runs or fewer in six of their past seven games.
Why The Astros Could Cover the Spread
How about the ageless wonder Justin Verlander? His name alone may be enough to guarantee a spread covering for the Astros, as Verlander is making his first start against the Blue Jays since he threw his infamous 2019 no-hitter at the Rogers Centre. Many expected Verlander’s velocity on his fastball to dip after the surgery last season, but he has so far proved that will not be the case. Through his first two starts, Verlander is maintaining a mid-90s mark on his fastball, which is responsible in hitters going a collective 2-30 against it in 13 innings pitched.
Another encouraging sign that Verlander is back is his ability to get strikeouts, something that has always been the name of his game.
Although Verlander has a 4-6 record with a 4.28 ERA in his career versus Toronto, let’s not forget that he also fired a no-hitter way back in 2011 against the Blue Jays as well. When Verlander is on, he may in fact have the nastiest stuff out of any other pitcher in the majors.
Even despite Jose Altuve’s recent injury to his hamstring and taking away a feared bat in a below-average ‘Stros lineup, look for SS Jeremy Pina and 3B Alex Bregman to carry the load in his absence. Pena is leading the club with a .308 average while Bregman has a team-high eight RBIs through 12 games.
Final Blue Jays-Astros Prediction & Pick
Anybody doubting Verlander is most likely a fool. It is scary to think how hot the savvy veteran has been in only two starts this year, and he should only get better as the season progresses. Even against a lethal Blue Jays lineup, Verlander shows the baseball world that he is officially back on Friday night.
Final Blue Jays-Astros Pick: Astros -1.5 (+118)