The Toronto Blue Jays are still dealing with an Alek Manoah problem.
The Blue Jays' starting pitching has generally been pretty good. Even last year’s punching bag Yusei Kikuchi has been serviceable. But not Manoah, the Jays' Opening Day starter.
Manoah looks lost on the mound. His Velocity is down, his control is non-existent, and he's getting hit hard regularly. And there's no obvious answer to his problems on the horizon.
Yet, despite all his struggles, oddsmakers continue to list Manoah as a favorite when he takes the ball. Even when he goes against quality opponents like he'll face when Toronto welcomes the Houston Astros to town on Monday.
Is Houston giving us value as a road underdog? I break down the MLB odds and bring you my best bet in our free MLB picks and predictions for Astros vs. Blue Jays.
Astros vs Blue Jays odds
Astros vs Blue Jays predictions
Alek Manoah is a shell of the guy who finished third in the American League Cy Young voting last season for the Toronto Blue Jays, and you can tell the struggles are starting to get to him. And a matchup against the reigning World Series champion Houston Astros probably won’t help his confidence.
Basically, nothing is going right for Manoah. His velocity is down, and so is his strikeout rate. His command is betraying him too, and his walk rate is way up. And when he's accurate, Manoah is getting hit hard and often.
Even worse, Manoah’s advanced numbers indicate things are going to get worse before improving. While a 5.46 ERA and 1.76 WHIP are ugly enough, his expected ERA sits at 6.42. He also surrenders a .275 expected batting average and a .477 expected slugging percentage. Both are in the bottom 18% of MLB.
Now he faces a Houston team that's shaken off its World Series hangover and is starting to find a rhythm at the plate again, ranking seventh in OPS and fifth in wRC+ over the last two weeks.
Brandon Bielak doesn’t boast great numbers on the mound for Houston either. But despite the Blue Jays' recent success while winning six of their last seven games, they haven’t exactly been piling on the runs. They often make inexperienced hurlers look like seasoned vets, at least a couple of times through the order.
I'll be fading Manoah as a favorite until the righty truly finds his form, particularly in the first five innings when his impact on the game is the greatest.
My best bet: Astros five-inning moneyline (-103 at Sports Interaction)
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Astros vs Blue Jays moneyline analysis
The Blue Jays opened this American League matchup as about -135 home favorites, and that number was just wrong. It’s almost like oddsmakers haven’t paid enough attention to how truly bad Manoah has been through the first two months of the season. Because he really shouldn’t be a favorite against almost anyone these days.
And the early bettors are basically agreeing on that, as the line has dropped down to the -115 to -120 range depending on the book.
To make matters worse for the Blue Jays on Monday, their bullpen is quite taxed after their weekend series sweep of the New York Mets. All three games were close, and all three of their top relievers (Jordan Romano, Erik Swanson, and Nate Pearson) made multiple appearances over the weekend, so their availability on Monday is questionable.
I’m not comfortable backing Toronto at anything less than even money. That’s how bad Manoah has been. I need a coin flip that's solely reliant on the Blue Jays' offense carrying the load. I like the Astros on Monday all the way down to -105.
Astros vs Blue Jays Over/Under analysis
However, the Blue Jays' lineup will get a good shot to carry the load in this one, which is part of the reason the total for this matchup hit the board at 9.5 and has been bumped up to an even 10 as of Monday afternoon.
The Blue Jays have been producing an interesting year offensively. It feels like they've never really been clicking all at once, yet the team still ranks third in batting average and fourth in OPS and wRC+ when facing right-handed pitchers.
Now they’ll dig in against an inexperienced starter in Bielak. While the righty is sporting a solid 3.19 ERA, he's due for some regression. His expected ERA sits at 5.47 with an opponent's expected batting average of .268 and expected slugging of .500.
This total is a touch high considering both teams boast above-average bullpens. Houston and Toronto rank third and fifth, respectively, in reliever expected FIP. So if you’re looking for an Over, maybe focus on the first five innings.
Astros vs Blue Jays game info
|Location:||Rogers Centre, Toronto, ON|
|Date:||Monday, June 5, 2023|
|First pitch:||7:07 p.m. ET|
Brandon Bielak (2-2, 3.19 ERA): Bielak has been a reliable arm for the Astros since joining the rotation to start May. The right-hander has allowed two earned runs or fewer in five of his six starts.
Alek Manoah (1-6, 5.45 ERA): Talk about the difference a year makes. Manoah recorded the second-most quality starts in baseball in 2022 while making 26 across 31 outings. Now he's notched only two over his first 12.
Trend to know
The Blue Jays are 1-8 during Alek Manoah's last nine starts. Find more MLB betting trends for Astros vs. Blue Jays