The Toronto Blue Jays are coming off a much-needed series victory over the weekend against the Minnesota Twins. Now, they’ll go for a second straight series win over a division leader when they welcome the Milwaukee Brewers to town on Tuesday night.
Unfortunately for the Blue Jays, they hand the ball to Yusei Kikuchi, who has apparently turned back into a pumpkin following a solid start to the season. But will a matchup with the Brewers get him back on track?
Milwaukee counters Kikuchi with veteran Adrian Houser, who is having an under-the-radar good season for the Brew Crew. Does he give Milwaukee some value as road underdogs?
Brewers vs Blue Jays odds
Brewers vs Blue Jays predictions
The promise that Yusei Kikuchi showed in April has all but disappeared in May. His ERA this month is 6.29, which includes him surrendering eight home runs over five starts.
Overall, his expected ERA sits at an uninspiring 5.23, and he is getting hit just as hard as he was last season. But if the Japanese left-hander has a reprieve in tonight’s matchup, it’s that he gets to go against the Brewers, arguably the worst team in the MLB when it comes to facing southpaws this season.
The Brew Crew resembles a stormtrooper trying to blast Luke Skywalker when they’re up there taking hacks against left-handed pitchers — they’re hitting nothing. Milwaukee ranks dead last in the MLB when it comes to batting average, OPS, and strikeout rate, and they're next-to-last in wRC+ when facing lefties this season.
And despite the recent struggles, Kikuchi has a couple of things still going for him. His fastball is pretty live, ranking in the 72nd percentile or better in velocity and spin rate. He has also halved his walk rate from a season ago. So, if he can locate the fastball and limit the walks, there is reason to believe Kikuchi can have some success and record some Ks (Over 5.5 strikeouts is worth a look) vs. this putrid Brewers lineup.
Milwaukee counters Kikuchi with veteran right-hander Adrian Houser. The 30-year-old is quietly having a very solid season. Houser is making just his fifth start of the season, but is pitching to a 3.45 xERA and is coming off back-to-back impressive performances vs. the Tampa Bay Rays and the Houston Astros. He shut out those great lineups on just six hits over 11 1/3 innings.
Tonight he’ll stare across at a Blue Jays team that has solid numbers overall, but certainly hasn’t lived up to expectations yet this season. It feels like Bo Bichette is the only one coming up with hits for the Blue Jays at the moment, with Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Matt Chapman, and Daulton Varsho all battling slumps.
Toronto also continuously fails to come up with that big hit when it’s needed most, ranking 20th in batting average with runners in scoring position. Despite getting two wins over the weekend, they scored just three runs in each of those victories, and have plated three runs or fewer in four of their last five games.
The total of 9 (it opened 9.5) says that some scoring is expected in this matchup. But I believe that number is too high, at least early on, and I’ll be betting the Under on the five-inning total.
My best bet: Under 5 first five innings (-103 at SIA)
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Brewers vs Blue Jays moneyline analysis
Always be prepared for a roller coaster ride if you are willing to back Yusei Kikuchi as a sizeable favorite. And that's exactly what he will be in this matchup against the Brewers. Toronto opened this matchup as roughly -165 home favorites, was bet all the way down to -140, and has bounced back to the -155 range as of Tuesday afternoon.
Clearly, at numbers like this, MLB odds makers believe Kikuchi will have the edge against a Brewers lineup that looks lost against lefties. But it is hard for me to get past the fact that Kikuchi is getting hit hard and often. He ranks in the Bottom 8% of the MLB in average exit velocity, hard hit percentage, and expected slugging percentage. That will always make me uncomfortable when laying a number like this.
The Blue Jays have also given Kikuchi a crazy amount of run support this season. An average of 6.2 runs per game in his starts, in fact. A lot of that is because Kikuchi is in the fifth spot in the rotation, and generally means a good Jays’ lineup is facing an opponent’s worst pitcher. That may not happen tonight, considering their hitting slump and Houser’s current form.
Like I said, I just am not comfortable laying this price with Kikuchi, even against the Brewers. I would stay away from the moneyline, unless more Blue Jays’ money comes in and drives the line even higher. Then I might consider taking Milwaukee as an underdog.
Brewers vs Blue Jays Over/Under analysis
The total for this interleague matchup hit the board at 9.5 and has been bet down to 9. I agree with the early money, but I still prefer the first five total instead. That’s mostly because of the potential of the Blue Jays lineup.
While the team certainly hasn’t produced the way it would like, you saw what they are capable of in last week’s 20-1 victory vs. the Rays. And overall, the numbers aren’t bad, but the team just hasn’t clicked at the same time much this season.
The Brewers also have a sketchy bullpen that ranks 22nd in xFIP and 24th in strikeouts per nine innings. So, even if Houser holds the Jays down, they’ll have a chance to strike late.
Brewers vs Blue Jays game info
|Location:||Rogers Centre, Toronto, ON|
|Date:||Tuesday, May 30, 2023|
|First pitch:||7:07 p.m. ET|
|TV:||Bally Sports Wisconsin, Sportsnet|
Adrian Houser (1-0, 2.25 ERA): Houser missed the first month of the season with a groin injury, but the right-hander has settled in nicely. He's been extremely efficient since his return, allowing just five runs in 20 1/3 innings of work.
Yusei Kikuchi (5-2, 4.56 ERA): As good as Kikuchi's April was, that's as bad May has been. The lefty has been tagged for a 7.03 ERA over five starts this month. His 14 home runs allowed is the second most in the majors.
Trend to know
The Under is 7-2 in the Brewers' last nine games vs. a left-handed starter. Find more MLB betting trends for Brewers vs. Blue Jays