First pitch: 5:07 p.m. ET
Probable pitchers: Matt Shoemaker (0-1, 4.71 ERA) vs. Blake Snell (4-2, 3.24 ERA)
Toronto Blue Jays vs. Tampa Bay Rays Predictions
Throughout his still-relatively-young Cy Young Award-winning career, Blake Snell has come about as close to owning a division rival as one could possibly be.
Fortunately for the 27-year-old southpaw, that’s exactly whom he’ll be seeing in Game 1 when his Rays kick off their postseason as the American League’s No. 1 seed in this once-in-a-lifetime format.
Snell has crossed paths with the Blue Jays in 13 assignments, and while he only came away with a 4-3 record to show for it, that would be very deceiving to his actual work manufactured in those starts.
Not only does Snell own a desirable 2.81 ERA across 64 total innings against the Jays, he’s also had no issue racking up the Ks, accumulating 80 punch-outs. When Snell is maintaining a high strikeout rate, that’s when you know he’s in control.
The projected starting lineup for Toronto this evening has gone down via the K quite often when taking on Snell. In fact, they’ve collectively struck out 35 times in the process of going 16-for-66 (.242) — that’s more than once every other at-bat!
As it is, the Blue Jays ride an offense that, for one reason or another, is less effective away from home. They bat almost 40 points lower on the road (.276) compared to the hitting-friendly pastures of Buffalo (.239), a glaring tendency that has stuck with this offense for the entire campaign.
So, there’s a good shot at Snell stringing together some sort of quality start. But what about Matt Shoemaker?
The unfortunate thing here is dealing with an extra variable in regards to Shoemaker, that being a lengthy period of mostly inactivity. He’s made only one start since the latter half of August, that coming last week when he battled the New York Yankees. Shoemaker held his own, yielding only one run in his three innings.
Most importantly, the seven-year veteran maintained his increased velocity this season in his return outing, touching 95 mph. His average fast ball velocity of 92.7 mph has never been higher and is actually considerably up from a year ago prior to landing on the injured list with a torn ACL.
While Tampa might be the AL’s top seed, their offense really isn’t that intimidating and they’re also missing a couple of regulars, too. It’s a lineup Shoemaker can definitely handle, and so long as that is the outcome, he’ll be the difference here.
Bet: UNDER 7.5 (-112)
MLB Leans - September 29
NYY/CLE Under 6
2020 MLB Over/Under Betting Record*: “19-42-4,” -28.91 units
Last Result: Mets-Nationals Under 9 (loss)
*Each bet graded as if it were to win 1 unit