Entering tonight’s game with a 7-9 record, the Toronto Blue Jays haven’t been easy to predict early in the season. Bad injury luck, inconsistent hitting, and playing every game away from their home city has made these first few weeks interesting for the boys in blue, but with that being said this team has been a pleasure to watch and I trust that they’ll turn it around once they get healthier. Coming off of a tough four-game series against the Kansas City Royals, who picked up three wins and looked sneakily good for a team that hasn’t been competitive the last couple of years, the Blue Jays could use some familiarity. For better or worse, they’ll have that as they head to Fenway Park for a brief two-game series against the rival Boston Red Sox. This article will be a little different, as I’ll be looking at tonight’s game from a betting perspective and give my three favourite bets. This doesn’t mean my picks will be correct, feel free to fade them if you want, but I thought it’d be fun to see whether my baseball knowledge can help me make a few bucks since gambling is a rapidly-growing component of the North American sports landscape.
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 April. That would be foolish.
April 20: Toronto Blue Jays (-105, underdogs) at Boston Red Sox (-115, favourites)
Probable Pitchers: Hyun-Jin Ryu, LHP (TOR) vs Eduardo Rodriguez, LHP (BOS)
Blue Jays to Get a Hit in the 1st inning: Yes (-130 / 1.76)
Both the Jays and Sox will send their staff ace to the mound Tuesday, but I think there’s an opportunity for Toronto to strike early against Boston’s starter. Rodriguez has pitched well in his first two starts, being credited for the win in each with an insane 12:1 strikeout/walk ratio, but in both outings it took him a while to get going. Making his season debut against the Baltimore Orioles on April 8th, E-Rod allowed a single, two-run home run, and then another single before getting out of the inning. His next start on April 13th, the Minnesota Twins pounced on him in the first inning with three singles and a sacrifice fly.
The 28-year old lefty has a 13.50 ERA in the first inning to begin this young season, giving up 6 hits and a walk to the 13 batters he’s faced in the opening frame. As a result, I’m confident the Blue Jays will be able to get a hit off of E-Rod in the first inning, especially with right-handed swingin’ Marcus Semien and Vlad Guerrero Jr. likely finding themselves at the top of the batting order. Given Rodriguez’s first inning struggles I also looked at Blue Jays to Get a Run in the 1st Inning (+260 / 3.60), but the odds of them getting a hit are good enough that it’d be worth taking the safer play. It could be a bunt, bloop single, or a 450-foot blast like Vladdy had the other night in his custom Air Jordan cleats. I could care less as long as a Jay gets on base safely with a hit to start the game.
Blue Jays F5 Money line (-120 / 1.83)
The money line odds for the Blue Jays through 5 innings are more favorable compared to their full game odds, and that’s because Ryu is toeing the mound. The 34-year old southpaw has been lights out to start the season, sporting a 1.89 ERA through 3 starts with a 9.50:1 K/BB ratio across 19 innings. While it’s a small sample size, Ryu is allowing the fewest hits per 9 innings (7.1) and walks (0.9) of his career and is coming off of a phenomenal start against the New York Yankees in which he allowed 0 earned runs (1 unearned, thanks to a Biggio throwing error), 4 hits, 1 walk and picked up the win while recording seven punchouts. The Jays’ advantage in the starting pitcher department is why I like them to be leading through the first 5 innings of the game, and if it’s tied through five then this bet will be considered a push and you’ll get your money back.
An Appreciation of Tonight's Jays Starter Hyun Jin Ryu:
I think you have to go back to Roy Halladay to find a Jays pitcher who could locate all of his pitches as effectively as Ryu can… pic.twitter.com/Xb35PyRF7S
— Chris Black (@DownToBlack) April 20, 2021
On top of that, the Red Sox have played four games in the last 3 days, and have had two doubleheaders in the past week, and even though their bats have been hot I could see Boston’s offense cooling down against the soft-tossing Ryu. Ryu last faced the Red Sox in 2019, and Boston’s lineup looks very different since then with a lot of their batters having never faced the Korean lefty. Since some of the Blue Jays’ best relievers find themselves on the injured list rather than the bullpen for this series, I have more confidence in picking Toronto to lead after 5 innings rather than the full game.
Vladimir Guerrero To Hit a Home Run: Yes (+500 / 6.00)
The last play of the day is a fun one, as I would love to see Slim Vladdy barrel up a Rodriguez offering and send it into the bleachers atop the Green Monster. It is no surprise to anyone who pays attention to the Blue Jays that Guerrero Jr. has been swinging a hot bat this month, and his odds are pretty good given he’s been one of the best power hitters in the Junior Circuit so far. Putting a wager on Vladdy to hit a home run would net a better return than if you bet on Semien, Randal Grichuk, or Lourdes Gurriel to do the same, and to me that screams value. Vladito is 2-for-6 vs E-Rod in his career, and he’s seeing the ball better this year than ever before and leads the Majors with 10 base hits with an exit velocity of 110+ mph. I’ll be paying attention to when he comes to the plate because every at-bat has the chances of a Plakata.
💥 114 MPH 💥
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) March 27, 2021
If you find yourself making a bet on a home run prop, I would recommend putting 1/4 of your typical wager amount. This is more of a hunch, based on a scalding hot hitter having a favourable pitching matchup, and it’s nowhere near an automatic play but would be fun if it actually happened. Put a fraction of your bankroll on it then sit back, tune in, and cross your fingers when Vladdy comes to the plate.