According to sportsbooks, the Toronto Blue Jays are coming into Wednesday’s game as underdogs against the Oakland Athletics, and frankly, I’m not surprised. After a stellar weekend at the plate, the bats appear to have taken some scheduled rest days the first two games of this series as the Jays’ offense has cooled off drastically since George Springer was removed from Sunday’s contest due to “fatigue”. I really don’t know what the deal is with Springer, but at least it doesn’t seem like he’ll need to go back on the injured list so hopefully we should see him back any day now. Until then, I’ll have a hard time trusting the Blue Jays to produce offensively especially since we won’t see Alejandro Kirk anytime soon. I miss Lil Thicc already.
— Dustin Saracini (@DustinSaracini) May 1, 2021
After the boys in blue made A’s #5 starter Cole Irvin look like Mark Buerhle in his prime yesterday, I think it’ll be up to the Blue Jays’ pitching to keep them in this one. Fortunately, Robbie Ray is taking the mound tonight, and the southpaw has looked solid in his first four starts, boasting a 2.78 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, and 153 ERA+ which might be the best indicator of his early-season success. He’ll square off against Chris Bassitt, who is the “ace” of the Athletics rotation but isn’t anything special. His last three starts have been identically good, however, allowing 2 earned runs across 6 innings in each one while recording 25 strikeouts across 18 innings. Bassitt’s consistency combined with the Blue Jays’ lack of such at the plate makes Ray an important factor Wednesday night, and that’s reflected in my two favourite bets for today’s game. My last betting article didn’t turn out so well, but I can only go up from here!
All lines will be available via Bet365, a sportsbook that is very legal in Canada. Odds will be measured in American-style odds, which is the most common gambling metric used in this part of the world, as well as decimal-style odds because that’s what I like using. For some reason, the U.S. has its own system for every type of measurement, which definitely isn’t narcissistic in any way whatsoever. If you’re interested in learning about American odds, or looking to convert American/Decimal/Fraction gambling odds from one to the other, then you’re welcome. Both are good to know when first getting into sports gambling.
*And please make sure to play responsibly. This is just for fun. You shouldn’t try to make a living off of a mid-week regular season baseball game in May. That would be foolish.
May 5: Toronto Blue Jays (+115 / 2.10) at Oakland Athletics (-135 / 1.74)
Probable Pitchers: Robbie Ray, LHP (TOR) vs Chris Bassitt, RHP (OAK)
A Run in the 1st inning: NO (-141 / 1.71)
The no-run first inning play, or NRFI as it’s known among gamblers, is hands-down one of my favourite bets in baseball. It makes for an stressful viewing experience, hoping that the starting pitchers make quick work of the other team’s top of the order, but if you’re not sweating you’re not living.
The odds on this NRFI are a bit more juiced than usual, but still good enough that I feel comfortable taking it. Ray hasn’t allowed a runner to score in the first inning this year, and to top it off the Athletics have been one of the worst first inning offenses so far. On the other side, the Blue Jays have gone six up six down in their two first innings against Oakland this series, and unless Springer is back in the lineup I’m not too concerned about them ruining this bet. If you tail this one you might be in for a roller coaster of emotions to start the game, but I like the odds of a clean opening frame.
Robbie Ray over 15.5 outs (-120 / 1.83)
Only recently have I dabbled in pitcher outs over/unders, and I think this is a play that not only has a good chance of hitting statistically but also one that the Blue Jays desperately need to happen.
Toronto’s bullpen has been overworked lately, as a result of starting pitchers getting removed from games early due to high pitch counts combined with injuries that have depleted the rotation meaning a lot of reliever innings. With Ryu on the IL, Ray is the leader of this pitching staff and the Blue Jays will want him to go deep tonight to give the bullpen a breather, especially since tomorrow’s matinee game will leave them on even shorter rest. Ryu is scheduled to start Thursday’s 3:37pm contest, and who knows how many innings Charlie Montoyo will leave him in for as he’s making his first appearance since a right glute strain put him on the shelf.
Wanna see some kRAYzy movement? 👀
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) April 13, 2021
In order for this bet to hit, Ray will need to go 5 1/3 innings at the very least. Ray has surpassed this total in his previous two starts, including a stellar performance in his last start in which he went 6 2/3 innings allowing two runs with five punchouts in what was his best start since joining the Blue Jays at the 2020 trade deadline. Ray’s fantastic outing was overlooked by Springer’s Blue Jays debut and this kid calling his shot by recording himself catching Bo Bichette’s home run, but his fastball was touching 98 and he had allowed only one batter to reach base through six innings of work, leaving the game to a standing ovation from the crowd at TD Ballpark when it was all said and done. I think the books have Ray’s total this low because he has a history of giving up walks which balloon a pitcher’s pitch count, but he’s drastically reduced his walk total so far in 2021 (his 3.6 BB/9 is the lowest it’s been since 2015) which has been a big reason for his success. If Ray can keep the ball in the yard and avoid giving too many free passes he should be able to go at least six innings in this one and save the bullpen from another long night. I’ll be hammering this play.
Robbie Ray's first 8 innings this season – 9 BB.
Robbie Ray's last 14.2 IP (57 batters) – 0 BB.
Ray and the Jays try to end their malaise when they take on the A's – tonight 9 ET on @Sportsnet
— Dan Shulman (@DShulman_ESPN) May 5, 2021