The champagne remains on ice for the Toronto Blue Jays as they try to clinch a postseason spot — but a win this afternoon against the Tampa Bay Rays as MLB odds favorites would finally stamp their ticket.
In that scenario, there’s every chance that these two teams will face off again in the Wild Card round, and the Blue Jays took care of business last night with an emphatic 11-4 win behind homers from Alejandro Kirk, Brandon Belt, and Matt Chapman.
That loss ended the Rays’ hopes of pipping the Baltimore Orioles to the AL East crown, and the visitors will turn to their bullpen today to keep their starters fresh for the playoffs.
Ahead of what’s likely to be a tense afternoon at Rogers Centre, check out our free MLB picks and predictions for Rays vs. Blue Jays on September 30.
Rays vs Blue Jays odds
Rays vs Blue Jays predictions
There were reasonable question marks about Brandon Belt’s place in this Toronto lineup after starting the year with a grim .164 average and .246 OBP in April. That’s a distant memory now.
The veteran lefty has flipped the script since then and, assuming the Blue Jays make it to the Wild Card round, his clutch hitting is going to be a huge X-factor.
Belt enters the final weekend of the season on an extra-hot streak, with four hits in his past three games, including a solo homer last night and a three-run dinger against the New York Yankees on Friday. He’s 6-for-21 in September and I’m picking him for another hit this afternoon.
It’s worth noting Belt’s strong record against the Rays this season too, with five hits in 14 at-bats. While only seven of his 18 jacks this season have come at Rogers Centre, his average is up a few ticks at home (.257) compared to his road mark (.247).
Belt’s playoff experience, alongside George Springer and Kevin Kiermaier, makes him a key man for October baseball, and I see him stepping up again this afternoon to steer the Blue Jays towards that goal.
My best bet: Brandon Belt Over 0.5 hits (-115 at SportsInteraction)
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Rays vs Blue Jays same-game parlay
I’m pairing a Belt hit with another key bat in this Toronto line-up. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. had three hits last night — look out for a fast start today, as he’s a whopping 8-for-10 in his career against Armstrong. I like the odds for Vladdy to cash the Over 1.5 bases prop.
I’m also picking the Blue Jays moneyline here. The hosts are 9-4 in their last 13 contests and, with the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners still chasing hard, they’ll be desperate to get the win they need today to avoid using a key arm in tomorrow’s season finale. Against a steady diet of Tampa Bay relievers, I see them getting it done.
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Rays vs Blue Jays moneyline and Over/Under analysis
The Blue Jays have everything to play for here, chasing the clinching win, while the Rays are surely shifting their focus to the postseason. Given all that, it’s a little surprising that Toronto is only a slight favorite.
Tampa Bay is 5-5 in its last 10 games and the visitors are already missing key regulars like Wander Franco, Jose Siri and, Brandon Lowe. Kevin Cash is expected to rest Yandy Diaz this afternoon to ease the star slugger back from a hamstring injury. Meanwhile, the Blue Jays have won three of the past four meetings and lead the season series 6-5.
If last night’s contest is any indication, the Blue Jays’ bats are getting into a rhythm at the right moment. The hosts raced into a 7-0 lead after four innings on the way to 16 hits, including a 4-for-5 outing for Bo Bichette.
The last nine meetings between these teams have cashed in the Over, so it makes sense that it’s a 9-point line at most sportsbooks. The past three matchups have served up a combined 42 runs and I’m expecting more of the same today, even with Toronto’s offense blowing hot and cold this month.
Trend to know
Through a broader lens, the Over looks appealing too, particularly with the consistency of this Tampa Bay offense. The Rays have hit the Team Total Over in 92 of their 160 games this year. Find more MLB betting trends for Rays vs. Blue Jays
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Rays vs Blue Jays game info
|Location:||Rogers Centre, Toronto, ON|
|Date:||Saturday, September 30, 2023|
|First pitch:||3:07 p.m. ET|
Shawn Armstrong (1-0, 1.41 ERA): Armstrong will play the opener role today and the 33-year-old brings an impressive 0.88 WHIP. He gave up a run and recorded three strikeouts against the Boston Red Sox in his last start — and it’s likely to be just a brief cameo today, as Armstrong hasn’t pitched more than a single inning since August 30.
Hyun Jin Ryu (3-3, 3.31 ERA): Ryu struggled against this Tampa Bay line-up last weekend, allowing five runs on seven hits through 4.1 innings of work. But his prior start, where he blanked the Red Sox while working into the fifth inning, was more indicative of what the lefty has produced for Toronto since returning from injury.
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