One thing has become painfully obvious for the Toronto Blue Jays in this series against the Houston Astros.... the Toronto rotation actually looks pretty good now that Alek Manoah is no longer in it.
After getting lit up in the opener of this four-game set, the Jays have gotten back-to-back great starts from Kevin Gausman and Chris Bassitt. Tonight, they’ll hope to make it three in a row when they hand the ball to Jose Berrios in the series finale.
However, Berrios & Co. will be in tough as home underdogs as they’ll face off against Astros ace Framber Valdez.
Astros vs Blue Jays odds
Astros vs Blue Jays predictions
It looked like more of the same mediocre pitching from Jose Berrios early on, but he has really turned things around of late and looks more like the guy who the Toronto Blue Jays first acquired from the Minnesota Twins back in 2021. And if Berrios can keep up with his current pace, the Jays may have one of the better 1-2-3 punches in baseball.
So, after Kevin Gausman and Chris Bassitt threw consecutive impressive outings, it’s Berrios’ turn. The right-hander has been a consistently-reliable starter over the last month and is better at home.
Berrios is pitching to a 2.17 ERA and is limiting opponents to a .222 batting average and a .672 OPS over his last six starts. He also did a great job against this same Houston Astros team back on April 19, holding them to two earned runs on three hits over seven innings of work. The most impressive part of that start was that it came on the road.
And I think he’s set up for success again tonight. The reigning champs have looked better at the plate the last couple of weeks, but they've been inconsistent, particularly against right-handers.
We just saw fellow right-handers Gausman and Bassitt do their thing the last two nights and overall, Houston ranks 20th in OPS and 15th in wRC+ when facing right-handed pitchers this season.
However, Berrios isn’t the only pitcher who could impress tonight. Houston hands the ball to ace Framber Valdez in hopes of earning the series split. While not flashy, Valdez is as solid as they come and is pitching to a 3.84 expected ERA with a great strikeout-to-walk ratio.
He’s also on a heater right now. Valdez has allowed just one earned run on 13 hits in 22 innings over his last three starts. Valdez didn’t see the Blue Jays the last time these two teams met but in one game last year, he allowed three runs on two hits over 6 2/3 innings.
And while the Blue Jays have solid numbers overall when facing right-handed pitching, getting that clutch hit continues to be a problem. They're hitting just .238 with runners in scoring position, which ranks 24th in baseball.
Throw two excellent bullpens into the mix and this has Under written all over it. Houston’s relievers rank fourth in xFIP and first in strikeouts per nine innings while Toronto ranks fifth and fourth in those categories, respectively.
These teams have played two competitive, low-scoring games each of the last two nights and I expect more of the same tonight.
My best bet: Under 8.5 (-117 at SIA)
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Astros vs Blue Jays moneyline analysis
Even with Berrios pitching well, and being at home, the Blue Jays still opened this AL matchup as +110 underdogs, but early bettors have backed the Blue Jays, moving the number all the way to Toronto -105, with Valdez & Co. sitting in the -115 range.
The move makes sense because this game feels close to a coin flip. I would give Houston the slight edge in starters even with Berrios’ 2.22 ERA at Rogers Centre this season.
When it comes to the lineups, that’s a slight edge to the Blue Jays, who — despite their struggles with runners in scoring position — have been decidedly more consistent than the Astros this season. The bullpens are pretty much a wash.
There isn’t much separating these teams at the moment and it’s easy to see either team pulling off the victory here. I would have to see plus money in the +110 range on either side for me to consider a moneyline wager here. For that reason, I’m staying away.
Astros vs Blue Jays Over/Under analysis
The total for this matchup hit the board at 8.5 and there are some 8s starting to pop up as of Thursday afternoon. As noted above, I like the Under, but I like it a hell of a lot more at 8.5. So, shop around and find that hook.
Generally, I’m a five-inning total guy, but with both bullpens rested and pitching well and the fact I was seeing more five-inning totals at an even 4, the full-game total looked to have more value tonight.
Astros vs Blue Jays game info
|Location:||Rogers Centre, Toronto, ON|
|Date:||Thursday, June 8, 2023|
|First pitch:||7:07 p.m. ET|
|TV:||AT&T SportsNet, Sportsnet|
Framber Valdez (6-4, 2.16 ERA): Mr. Quailty himself has picked up right where he left off last season. A year after leading MLB with 26 quality starts, he's already recorded 10 in his first 12 this season.
Jose Berrios (5-4, 3.66 ERA): Berrios continues to impress at Rogers Centre. The right-hander owns a 2.22 ERA, a 1.03 WHIP, and is striking out more than a batter an inning when pitching at home this season.
Trend to know
The Under is 11-3 in Houston's last 14 road games vs. a right-handed starter and is 7-2-1 in Toronto's last 10 overall. Find more MLB betting trends for Astros vs. Blue Jays