The Toronto Blue Jays will be looking to avoid their fifth straight loss and getting swept by the Red Sox tonight in the final game of the series. We’ll be previewing the game before going over my play for the first five innings.
One of the most surprising storylines in the MLB this season is the struggle of Blue Jays starter Alek Manoah. The big righty looked solid to start the game but ended up leaving after the fifth inning, as he allowed eight hits and two earned runs (five total) while picking up three strikeouts. Manoah made 31 starts last season and recorded three or fewer strikeouts in just one of them, yet he has already done it three times this season.
Yesterday, Toronto committed four errors in the field and finished the game with six hits. The Blue Jays' pitching staff has made things difficult on the lineup, allowing 13 or more hits in all three games. The positive is they will have Kevin Gausman on the hill today, and he has been their best starter this season.
Gausman will face a Red Sox lineup that has scored six or more runs in five straight games. Entering tonight, the Red Sox sit in the top ten in the league in BAbip, average exit velocity, and home run percentage. Boston put up eight runs in last night’s game, with Masataka Yoshida bringing his RBI total on the season up to 21.
The pitching staff is the one area of the Red Sox that is still shaky. Boston’s staff is near the bottom of the league in a lot of statistical categories, including opponent OPS, opponent slugging, and hard hit percentage. Tonight they hand the ball to young right-hander Bryan Bello to make his fourth start of the season. In 12.3 innings of work, Bello has pitched to a 6.57 ERA with 14 strikeouts and five walks.
The Blue Jays F5 run-line of (-.5) is currently priced at (-120), and I’ll be backing them for my play in this one. The series has looked lopsided, but Toronto has been in all three games through the first five innings and is 7-3 ATS in the first five innings over their last ten games, while Boston is 5-5 ATS. Toronto has had the lead after the fifth inning in two of the three games in this series, and tonight they have the advantage on the mound.
Kevin Gausman is coming off his best start of the season, a game in which he struck out 13 over seven innings of work. The veteran right-hander is currently in the 94th percentile in strikeout percentage, 85th percentile in whiff percentage, and 54th percentile in expected slugging. In his last three starts, against the Red Sox on the road, he has racked up at least six or more strikeouts in each game.
On the other end, Brayan Bello is currently in the 13th percentile in hard hit percentage, 23rd percentile in expected slugging percentage, and in the bottom 7% of the league in WOBA. In three starts against the Blue Jays last season, Bello allowed six or more hits in all three, and in 13 innings, he allowed 11 earned runs.
Toronto Blue Jays (-.5)(-129)