Blue Jays vs Rays Predictions, Picks, Odds: Manoah Feeling Blue

The Blue Jays have come back down to Earth after their 20-run outburst, and with the Rays holding what should be an edge on the mound again, our MLB picks are fading the road side again.

Last Updated: May 25, 2023 11:53 AM ET Read Time: 4 min
Zach Eflin MLB
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

Maybe the Toronto Blue Jays should have saved some of those runs for the rest of their series against the Tampa Bay Rays.

One day removed from a 20-run outburst, Toronto’s troubles at The Trop returned on Wednesday, as Blue Jays hitters were stymied by Shane McClanahan and the Tampa Bay bullpen in a 7-3 Rays victory.

The Blue Jays will now try to earn a series split in Thursday afternoon’s finale but whether they are able to will depend largely on what they get out of struggling starter Alek Manoah.

Can the big right-hander find his good stuff and help lead the Jays to a win as road underdogs? Or will the Rays' dominance at home prove too much once again? I break down the MLB odds and bring you my free MLB picks and predictions Blue Jays vs. Rays.

Blue Jays vs Rays odds

Blue Jays vs Rays predictions

Less than 24 hours after plating a ridiculous 20 runs, the Blue Jays' troubles at the Trop returned on Wednesday. Rays starter Shane McClanahan held the Jays lineup to one run on four hits in seven innings while outfielder Luke Raley did his best Shohei Ohtani impression, pitching on Tuesday and then hitting a home run on Wednesday as the Rays earned an easy 7-3 win.

And things won’t get any easier as they try to earn a series split in Thursday’s finale. That’s because Tampa Bay hands the ball to Zach Eflin. Despite some under-the-radar solid numbers the last few seasons, the right-hander was an afterthought in Philadelphia. But what other teams see as trash, the Rays consistently see treasure and Eflin is the latest in their reclamation projects. And the early returns are outstanding.

Eflin’s strikeout rate is at 28.4%, the second highest of his career, and his walk rate is his lowest ever. He is pitching even better than his 3.45 ERA, as his expected ERA is sitting at 2.93 and is limiting opponents to a .214 opponent expected batting average.

Even though we saw what this Blue Jays lineup is capable of on Tuesday, there have been few games where they have clicked like that. 

But the bigger problem for the Blue Jays in this matchup is Alek Manoah. While some may have expected a slight regression after the big right-hander’s awesome breakout campaign in 2022, not many would have predicted this.

Manoah was pitching a little better in his last start against the Baltimore Orioles, before John Schneider accidentally pulled him from the game after one too many mound visits. But the overall numbers are still not great.

He has seen a dip in his velocity and has struggled with his command. The right-hander is pitching to a 6.54 xERA, opponents are getting to him for a .282 xBA. His xERA, xBA, xSlugging percentage, strikeout rate, and walk rate all rank in the Bottom 15% of the league. And today he faces a Rays team that ranks fourth in batting average and leads the MLB in OPS and wRC+ when facing right-handed pitching this season.

Manoah has also made one start against the Rays already this season and it did not go well. He lasted just 4 2/3 innings while surrendering seven runs on nine hits back on April 16. 

The Blue Jays have always struggled at Tropicana Field, where the Rays have been dominant this season with a 23-5 record. One team's starter is struggling, the other has some of the best numbers in the American League. The Rays should jump out to an early lead in this one and hold the lead through five innings.

My best bet: Rays -0.5 five-inning runline (-110 at SIA)

Not intended for use in MA.
Affiliate Disclosure: Covers may receive advertising commissions for visits to a sportsbook or betting site

Bet with one of Canada’s best

Looking to bet on some Jays action? Join Sports Interaction, the best in Canada for new bettors.

Sign Up Now

Blue Jays vs Rays moneyline analysis

The Rays opened this American League East matchup at what looked like an undervalued -130, likely due to Manoah’s name. But the right-hander certainly isn’t that guy from a season ago. And bettors have agreed as the Rays have been bet up to the -165 range as of late Thursday morning.

Even with the price going up, it’s hard to back the Blue Jays in this spot. Take away the 20-run outburst on Tuesday and the team is still struggling. They’ve won just two of the last 14 games vs. American League East opponents. And now they are sending a struggling pitcher to the mound against one of the most effective lineups in baseball.

To make matters worse for the Blue Jays, since McClanahan pitched seven innings yesterday, Rays’ manager Kevin Cash needed just two innings from his bullpen. Of course, he used two of his best in Jason Adam and Pete Fairbanks, but both have been used sparingly this week and should be ready this afternoon. So, the Rays should still have an edge in the later innings as well.

As noted, bettors are starting to get behind the Rays here, to the point where we're starting to lose some of the value. But basically, this is a dominant home team with a strong starting pitcher going against a guy who is still overvalued. I would lean toward Tampa Bay on the moneyline.

Blue Jays vs Rays Over/Under analysis

The total for the finale of this four-game set hit the board at 8.5 and that’s where it sits as of late Thursday morning. The total for the three previous games in this series all closed between 8-9, and all three have gone Over those numbers. But 8.5 feels pretty spot-on for this matchup.

But a couple of those Overs may be a little deceiving. In the two Blue Jays losses they needed some late home runs in games that weren’t that close at the time to help send the number Over.

I’ve already broken down why I think the Rays will have success at the dish against Manoah, but since the Blue Jays have either been losing or winning a blowout in this series, basically all their high-leverage relievers are rested and should be primed to come into this game if Manoah gets into trouble early on.

On top of that, while you have to respect the potential of this Blue Jays’ lineup, take away the 20-run explosion on Tuesday, and they're averaging just 3.2 runs per game over their previous nine games. 

Like I said, I think this number feels about right, so no official play for me on the total, if not the slightest lean toward the Under.

Blue Jays vs Rays game info

Location: Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, FL
Date: Thursday, May 25, 2023
First pitch: 1:10 p.m. ET
TV: MLB Network

Starting pitchers

Alek Manoah (1-4, 5.15 ERA): Manoah was finally having a decent start before manager John Schendier's gaffe meant he was accidentally pulled from the game. But the right-hander will need to string together consecutive solid outings before we can declare he's broken out of this slump.

Zach Eflin (6-1, 3.45 ERA): Eflin is just the latest in the Rays' long line of pitching reclamation projects. The right-hander was an afterthought in Philadelphia but his strikeouts are up, his walks are down, and is currently pitching to the best ERA of his career.

Latest injuries

Trend to know

The Blue Jays are 17-35 in their last 52 games played at Tropicana Field. Find more MLB betting trends for Blue Jays vs. Rays


Pages related to this topic

Popular Content

Legal Canadian sports betting

Best Canadian betting sites Ontario sports betting
Covers 25 Years Logo Established in 1995,
Covers is the world
leader in sports
betting information.
Covers is verified safe by: Evalon Logo GPWA Logo GDPR Logo GeoTrust Logo Evalon Logo