Toronto will have plenty of confidence after a 9-2 road trip, and it will need it when Tampa Bay comes to town. In our MLB betting picks, we focus on a hot hitter who we believe will continue to smash against an inexperienced pitcher.
The Toronto Blue Jays open a massive five-game series when they host the Tampa Bay Rays in town tonight.
Toronto trails Tampa by just half a game in the American League Wild Card standings heading into that rare five-game set, and brings a ton of momentum and confidence with it after returning home from a 9- 2.
Arguably, no one has more confidence right now than Toronto shortstop Bo Bichette, who snatched ball coverage in September.
With Tampa Bay calling AAA guns to slow Bo and Co., it’s no surprise that today’s best bet involves Bichette’s current stream. Find out what exactly it is in my MLB free bet picks and predictions for this AL East battle between the Rays and Blue Jays.
Best Rays vs. Blue Jays Odds
Rays vs. Blue Jays picks and predictions
The Blue Jays enter this series on the momentum of a 9-2 road trip and a lot of that is down to the play of Bo Bichette. The Blue Jays shortstop has been hotter than the surface of the sun since the start of September and it looks like his approach to home plate has calmed down a bit and really let him down.
Bichette does a much better job of keeping his head down and letting the ball come to his bat and has been willing to take the ball the other way – and the results have been phenomenal. Bichette had 22 hits in 44 at bats (.500) in September and has an impressive 1.602 OPS. This includes 13 extra hits (six homers).
Meanwhile, the Rays enter this series leading the Blue Jays by just half a game for the top wildcard spot in the American League, but are coming off a tough weekend at Yankee Stadium. Tampa Bay got two combined innings from its two starters in its last two games and had to dig deep in its bullpen — including using longtime man Ryan Yarbrough for five innings yesterday.
So the Rays called up Cooper Criswell to pitch his first major league innings this year, while also calling up four other arms of their Triple-A team. The right-hander has just 1 1-3 innings in the Major League under his belt. That happened last season with the Los Angeles Angels where he allowed three runs on six hits against the San Diego Padres.
While the Rays still have strong arms in this bullpen, I’m giving Bo the lead in this game. He stays on his pace and exceeds 1.5 goals in total for the eighth time in his last 11 games. Equal money is the icing on the cake.
my best bet: Bo Bichette Over 1.5 goals in total (+100 at BetRivers)
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Rays vs Blue Jays betting overview
•Lateral analysis •Over/under analysis •Starting pitchers •injuries •Time •Tendency to know
The Blue Jays opened this American League East game with around -145 favorites, but bettors sided with Toronto here, moving the line down to -164. And it makes sense. Toronto starts a Major League pitcher while the Rays are not.
Unfortunately, for Jays fans and backers, that pitcher is Jose Berrios, whose 2022 season has been about as violent a roller coaster as any starter can get. After another short recovery with solid starts against the Yankees and Red Sox, Berrios then allowed six runs on a whopping 18 hits in his last two starts against the Cubs and Orioles.
The latest drop inflated Berrios’ expected ERA to 5.39 while giving up an expected .275 batting average to opponents.
Toronto should theoretically be favored by even more than that if you could trust Berrios to get off to a reliable start. Unfortunately, he just wasn’t able to do that.
So even against a Rays team pitching a guy making his first MLB appearance of the year — and having to navigate a taxed bullpen — it’s really hard to trust the Jays here. Kevin Cash and the Rays always find a way to manipulate their relievers to their advantage, so don’t be surprised if they play well here.
It’s a stay away for me.
Covers MLB betting analysis
The total of 8.5 seems fair enough for this game. While the Rays are expected to have several of their high-leverage relievers in a bullpen that ranks sixth in MLB in ERA, it will be interesting to see how they navigate the first five to six innings of this game against a strong Blue Jays line up.
Even though Toronto’s offense may weather a few cold spells, the team still ranks eighth in batting average, sixth in OPS and fifth in wRC+ since exiting the All-Star break.
Oh, and did we mention Jose Berrios is starting this game? The inconsistent wonder must now face a Tampa roster who, despite a ton of injuries, also got the job done in the post-All-Star break, placing 12th in OPS and ninth in wRC+ in the second half.
The Rays were a problem for Berrios when they last met in July. While they only scored two runs, they reached it for eight hits and two walks.
So even though I don’t have an official game here, with Berrios on the mound and a still-dangerous Jays lineup, I’d go for the Over.
Rays vs Blue Jays Match Info
• Location: Rogers Centre, Toronto, Ont.
• Date: Monday, September 12, 2022
• First launch: 7:07 p.m. ET
• TV: Bally Sports Sun, Sportsnet
Cooper Criswell (0-0, 0.00 ERA): Criswell makes his first Major League appearance of 2022 in this game. The right-hander has pitched 27 1-3 innings at Triple-A Durham this season, pitching at a 3.95 ERA, with a .95 WHIP and 22 strikeouts.
Jose Berrios (10-5, 5.23 ERA): The ups and downs of this Joes Berrios season won’t stop. After throwing strong back-to-back outings against the Yankees and Red Sox, the right-hander followed that up by allowing six earned runs on 18 hits for the Cubs and Orioles.
Find our latest MLB injury reports.
Be sure to monitor game conditions with our MLB weather information.
Betting trend you need to know
The Blue Jays are 16-5 in their last 21 games against a right-handed starter. Find more MLB betting trends for Rays vs Blue Jays