The Astros and Blue Jays square off for the fourth game of a four-game series Thursday night at the Rogers Center. The Jays lead this series 2-1, winning the last two in a row after Alek Manoah’s implosion in game one of the series.
When this series started, I said I believed the teams would split, 2-2, so I am following up my prediction and backing Houston behind Frambe Valdez at -120 tonight.
Valdez has been excellent this season and is once again in the AL Cy Young conversation. His ERA of 2.17 is well below his xERA of 3.85, but Valdez’s 59.5% ground ball rate continues to work in his favor, and his 2.87 Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) says the ERA should remain low. More importantly, however, Valdez is likely to go deep in the game. His 79 innings pitched this season are the seventh-most in MLB. The Jays struggle when facing lefties, ranking 22nd in OPS (.706), 25th in SLG (.382) and 32nd in ISO (a mere .121). Houston should have the advantage on the bump tonight.
The Jays will start Jose Berrios, who has been better of late, lowering his ERA to 3.66 after a bumpy start in April. Berrios owns a 2.22 ERA when pitching at home this year, so I don’t expect a lot of scoring for either team tonight, though Berrios’s xERA of 4.58 and 2.78 walks per nine innings suggest he’s the more vulnerable pitcher.
Games at the Rogers Center are averaging only 7.82 runs per game this year, and I predict the game total will stay under the listed market value of 8.5. A low-scoring, close game feels like the most likely outcome tonight- with the Astros edging the Jays to split the series 2-2.
A few more trends to note:
Games have gone under 50.8% of the time for Houston this season, while games have gone under 51.7% of the time for Toronto.
Houston has won 68.8% of the time as the road favorite this year (11-5-0).
Toronto has won 75% of the time as home underdog (3-1).
Toronto is averaging 3.86 runs per game across the past two weeks of play, while Houston is averaging 4.86.
The Bets: Houston ML( -120) | Under 8.5 (-115)
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