Blue Jays Betting: Can Toronto End 30 Years of Heartache?
The Toronto Blue Jays are one step closer to winning it all. The Jays clinched an American League Wild Card berth, then locked down the No. 4 seed Monday night with a 5-1 win over the Baltimore Orioles. They’ll host the No. 5 Seattle Mariners in the Wild Card Round, starting this Friday at 4:07 PM ET. How far can they go? Our Blue Jays betting preview should help you decide.
Will the Blue Jays win their first World Series in 30 years? They’re in sixth place at +1200 on the MLB betting board at Bodog Sportsbook as we go to press. At 92-70, Toronto will be coming off just their third 90-win season since they last won it all in 1993, so their chances look pretty good.
It won’t be easy, but then again, it never is. If the Jays get past the Mariners, they’ll face the top-seeded Houston Astros in the AL Division Series. Then it’s off to the AL Championship Series, and a likely date with the No. 2 New York Yankees.
Timing is everything, though, and the Jays are hot right now, winning 8 of their last 11 to wrap up the 2022 regular season. Let’s take a closer look at how Toronto got here, and what they’ll face in the coming days.
Updating the Season So Far
The last time we checked in on the Blue Jays, they were on the verge of sealing a playoff spot at 87-67; Toronto dropped the next two games to the Yankees, but they backed into the postseason on their off day when the Baltimore Orioles lost 5-3 to the Boston Red Sox.
The next step for the Jays was clinching home-field advantage in the Wild Card Round, which they did by sweeping the Red Sox in three straight games and beating Baltimore 5-1 on Monday. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit his 32nd home run of the season to help put away the Orioles and lock down the No. 4 seed on the junior circuit.
With 92 wins, Toronto have eclipsed last year’s total of 91 – and they’ve done it without having to rely on Guerrero so much. After fighting tooth-and-nail with Shohei Ohtani in 2021, Guerrero hasn’t been a regular fixture in MLB MVP betting for the American League; that honour will almost certainly go to Yankees slugger Aaron Judge, who broke the AL record Tuesday with his 62nd home run.
Updating the Standout Performers
Guerrero can still take home an MVP award this year: the World Series MVP. But again, he’s way behind Judge, who’s tied with Houston’s Jose Altuve at +1400 at the end of the regular season.
There are several Toronto teammates who will be competing indirectly with Guerrero as well. Here’s a quick snapshot of the top Blue Jays betting candidates:
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. +5000
Alek Manoah +5000
George Springer +5000
Bo Bichette +7000
Jordan Romano +10000
Kevin Gausman +15000
That’s Toronto’s core in a nutshell. Manoah and Gausman have anchored the starting rotation, with Manoah (16-7, 2.24 ERA) making the All-Star team and Gausman (12-10, 3.35 ERA) filling in admirably for departed AL Cy Young winner Robbie Ray. Romano (36 saves, 2.11 ERA) has supported them with arguably the best season from a Jays closer since Tom Henke and Duane Ward in 1992 and 1993, respectively.
Guerrero (.818 OPS) is still the most important hitter in Toronto’s lineup, but Bichette (.802 OPS) might be the hottest, setting the team record for hits in a month with 48 in September. Bichette didn’t make the All-Star team, but Springer (.814 OPS) did, and Teoscar Hernandez (.807 OPS) has picked up the pace after early-season injuries slowed him down. All-Star catcher Alejandro Kirk (.786 OPS) has also been a pleasant surprise in his first full year in the bigs.
Are these Jays Title-Worthy?
With quality players at every position on the field, this is definitely one of the best Blue Jays rosters of all-time. But how do they stack up against other Toronto teams who made the playoffs?
Quite well, as it turns out. According to Pythagorean win percentage, which is based on run differential (Runs Scored minus Runs Allowed), the 2022 Jays are almost identical to the two World Series champions:
Neither of those championship teams won 100 games during the regular season, but they had the balance and depth you need to make a deep run in the playoffs. In addition to the aforementioned closers, the Jays had quality starting pitching (anchored by Jack Morris in 1992 and Pat Hentgen in 1993), and the famed “WHAMCO” batting order featuring Devon White, Roberto Alomar, Paul Molitor, Joe Carter and Jon Olerud.
On paper, the 2015 Blue Jays (.628 Pythagorean) were even better. They certainly had the hitting, with Jose Bautista, Josh Donaldson and Edwin Encarnacion leading the way. But Toronto didn’t have the same depth in the starting rotation or the bullpen, and it came back to bite them in the ALCS when they lost in six games to the eventual champions, the Kansas City Royals.
Are the Jays Ready for Seattle?
As well-balanced as this year’s Jays look, they do have some question marks in the starting rotation. Manoah, who will open the Wild Card series against Seattle, is clearly on top of his game, but Gausman had to be removed from Sunday’s start against Boston with a split fingernail on his pitching hand. This could prove problematic against the Mariners if Gausman doesn’t heal in time.
The loss of Hyun-Jin Ryu to Tommy John surgery, and the surprising ineffectiveness of Opening Day starter Jose Berrios (12-7, 5.23 ERA), have also forced the Jays to promote Ross Stripling from spot duty to the middle of the rotation. The good news: Stripling (10-4, 3.01 ERA) has delivered in spades, looking very much like the pitcher who made the 2018 All-Star team as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
All in all, Toronto measure up quite well against the 90-72 Mariners (.553 Pythagorean), who have a much weaker batting order aside from rookie sensation Julio Rodriguez (.847 OPS), and who haven’t gotten quite the results they had hoped from the aforementioned Ray (12-12, 3.71 ERA) after signing him in the offseason. It all begins this Friday at Rogers Centre, so get your Blue Jays betting picks in now at Bodog Sportsbook, and cheer on Toronto as they march towards October glory.