If the Houston Astros and Toronto Blue Jays play again this season after Thursday’s series finale north of the border, it would be in the American League playoffs. That’s quite possible. Houston is a short favorite on the MLB odds behind Framber Valdez. It’s a good thing Toronto has a retractable roof or this game might be in jeopardy with very poor air quality in Canada (and some of the US) due to wildfires.
Astros vs. Blue Jays | 2023 MLB Expert Analysis
How to Bet Houston at Toronto MLB Odds & TV Info
When: Thursday, 7:07 PM ET
Where: Rogers Centre
Probable pitchers (away/home): Framber Valdez/Jose Berrios
TV: MLB Extra Innings
Stream/gameday audio: https://www.mlb.com/live-stream-games/
Opening MLB Lines: Astros -130, Blue Jays +110 (total 8.5)
Why Bet On Houston?
It’s lefty Framber Valdez on the mound for Houston. Valdez (6-4) earned the win last Friday over the Angels, allowing five hits and a walk while striking out seven over seven scoreless innings. He got a key double play to end the fourth after giving up two singles to start the inning. And to finish off the seventh, he picked up an inning-ending, bases-loaded double play. Both of Shohei Ohtani’s pitching losses this season have come against Valdez and the Astros.
“Back in my day, we say get the ball down, and when guys swung through pitches up, we didn’t understand why,” Angels manager Phil Nevin said. “But with technology now, we know [Valdez’s sinker] has ride and it looks like it’s in a certain spot, but it’s not. It’s a really tough pitch to hit, obviously.”
Valdez has been in peak form over his last three starts, allowing just one run across 22 innings in that span. He’s earned a quality start in 10 of his 12 outings this season, including five of his six starts since the beginning of May. Valdez owns a 2.16 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and 84:16 K:BB over 79 innings this year.
Underlying metrics suggest Valdez’s cut fastball is performing slightly worse than last season — it had a negative-5 run value last year and it is at 1 early this season — but the way in which he’s using it is clearly different. Valdez seems far more inclined to throw it against right-handed hitters. He threw 82 total cutters to right-handed hitters last season. After 12 starts of this one, right-handed hitters have seen 87 cutters.
“When you got the slow curveball splitting the plate and coming down and in, the cutter keeps guys honest from trying to go out there and hit the ball to right field,” Manager Dusty Baker said. “Everybody knows what a great sinker he has. That’s what the cutter does — any time you can force the hitter to decide inside or outside.”
Among AL starters, Valdez ranks 1st in quality starts (10), 4th in ERA (2.16), 5th in innings (79) and T-5th in strikeouts (84). He will be making his 4th career start vs. the Blue Jays, including his 3rd at Rogers Centre. He last faced them on May 1, 2022, taking a losing decision in a 3-2 loss despite delivering a quality start (6.1 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 2 SO). That’s his only quality start through his 3 outings vs. Toronto.
Bet Astros to Win Today
MyBookie Betting Lines for the Game
Why Bet On Toronto?
It’s Jose Berrios (5-4) on the bump for Toronto. Berrios did not factor into the decision last Saturday, allowing one run on four hits and three walks over six innings against the Mets. He struck out six. Berrios turned in yet another strong outing, allowing one extra-base hit across six innings to tally his third quality start in his last four appearances. Across his last six starts (37.1 innings), Berrios owns a 2.17 ERA and 34:15 K:BB, and he’s given up three or fewer runs in each of those outings.
Since April 14, Berrios has had just one start in which he allowed five runs, whereas the rest of his outings have produced three or fewer, including two outings with zero allowed. Berrios has been doing this against some strong teams, including the Atlanta Braves, the Houston Astros, the New York Yankees, New York Mets and the Tampa Bay Rays (twice).
Berrios has limited hard-hit balls (87th percentile) and kept his average exit velocity down (80th percentile). He ranks first among Blue Jays starters with an 87.1 MPH average exit velocity and 31.7 hard-hit rate. Last season, Berrios used his four-seam fastball at a 27.9% clip, and it was getting tagged for a .349 average and a +17 run value, making it one of his worst pitches.
This season, both of his fastballs sit at a -1 run value. His best pitch is his slurve, which generates a 30.3 K%, misses bats at a 33.6% whiff rate, and keeps opponents off the basepaths with a .181 average as well.
Berrios pitched in Houston on April 19 and threw 7.0 innings of 2-run ball, allowing three hits with three strikeouts. Over 8 career starts vs. the Astros, he is 4-4 with a 4.43 ERA (20 ER/40.2 IP) and 36 strikeouts.
The Blue Jays are one of two MLB teams to have scored in every game this season (also Arizona). The Jays have gone 80 straight games without being shut out, the longest active streak in the majors. It’s their longest such streak since scoring in 85 consecutive games from May 19-Aug. 23, 2000. Toronto is 3rd in the AL in team AVG (.265), 4th in OBP (.333), 4th in OPS (.759) and 5th in SLG (.426).
Valdez is good, but we don’t see him shutting out Toronto.
Bet Blue Jays to Win Today
MyBookie Betting Lines for the Game
- Astros are 41-11 in their last 52 Thursday games.
- Astros are 11-4 in their last 15 during game 4 of a series.
- Blue Jays are 1-4 in their last 5 Thursday games.
- Blue Jays are 1-4 in their last 5 games vs. a left-handed starter.
- Under is 5-2 in the last 7 meetings in Toronto.
Astros 4, Blue Jays 3
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