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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Tuesday, May 27, 2014 at 2:00 PM

When the Toronto Blue Jays bombed the Tampa Bay Rays Monday 10-5, it continued a tendency we’ve been seeing all season long. Toronto is winning with OFFENSE, leading to a potent combination for bettors considering “Blue Jays and Over” vs. vulnerable pitchers.

 

THRU MONDAY

Toronto was 30-22 in the standings for a profit near 8.5 units

Toronto was 29-21-2 to the Over, meaning 58% Overs thus far

It’s way too early to pencil in the Blue Jays as the eventual winner of a historically tough division, or even as a Wildcard team. Though, given the level of parity right now in the American League, and the fact that TWO teams get Wildcards these days…that 30-22 record puts them in very good shape.

 

CURRENT BEST AL RECORDS

Oakland 31-20

Detroit 28-19

Toronto 30-22

LA Angels 28-22

NY Yankees 27-23

Baltimore 26-23

Nobody else is more than a game over the .500 mark. The top five teams will make the playoffs. That gives Toronto some margin for error even if they don’t win the AL East.

What’s most impressive to me right now is that Toronto is ON FIRE against a dangerous part of their schedule. They just swept the Oakland A’s…the best team in the league…and a team that was 31-17 before visiting Toronto! Prior to that was a road sweep of the defending World Champion Boston Red Sox. Sure, the Red Sox are slumping…but a road sweep is impressive against anyone these days. Before that was a series win on the road at Texas…who’s far from a doormat. This isn’t a case of a team that’s creating illusions during a weak part of its schedule. They just swept Oakland!

Now, there are reasons to be skeptical about this team long term. Students here in my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping should always be initially skeptical about teams rising up from out of nowhere. My concern is with their starting pitching. Let’s run those numbers quickly…

 

TORONTO STARTING PITCHERS (at least 6 starts)

Mark Buerhle: 2.16 ERA in 10 starts

Drew Hutchison: 3.88 ERA in 11 starts

R.A. Dickey: 3.95 ERA in 11 starts

Dustin McGowan: 4.70 ERA with 8 starts and 5 relief appearances

Brandon Morrow: 5.93 ERA in 6 starts

Note that J.A. Happ has made 5 starts and 3 relief appearances, with an ERA of 3.34. As a group, that’s one guy who’s pitching way over his head historically (Beurhle, who’s more of an innings muncher with occasional gems rather than a Cy Young candidate), then others who have to be considered disappointments (or worse) given how low scoring baseball is this year. If you’re #2 guy in the full season rotation is at 3.88, then you’re not getting what you need from your starters. Happ has been surprisingly solid thus far as a fill-in, but his career norms don’t suggest that he’d be able to continue in the low 3’s.

Toronto is winning with OFFENSE, which is the hardest thing to maintain through a long season.

 

TORONTO’S LEAGUE RANKINGS

#4 in the AL in Batting Average

#3 in the AL in On-Base Percentage

#1 in the AL in Slugging Percentage

The biggest bats in the DH league belong to the Toronto Blue Jays thus far, rather than the Detroit Tigers or any other offense you might have thought. They get guys on base…and they move them around with big blows. Back during the steroid era, that just made you a generic team. In 2014, it’s rare to find an offense that does everything well in the fashion you see above.

For now, the trick for handicappers is to determine if and when line value is going to catch up. Then, if and when Toronto is going to have a crash that turns value around into fading them. My decades of experience handicapping baseball through all different eras have made it clear to me that “us against the world” stories like this often have pretty long legs. I wouldn’t be shocked if Toronto is still a major story around the All-Star Break. And, the good thing about the names in their starting rotation is that the market doesn’t have much respect for any of them. Buerhle isn’t going to start being priced like he’s Justin Verlander or Clayton Kershaw. It’s very common though for “the dog days of summer” to take some starch out of a team like this. The offense cools off, and their mediocre pitching becomes a bigger issue.

Be sure you keep an eye on the Blue Jays in the coming days and weeks. We’ll talk more about the rest of the AL East and all of baseball through the course of the summer right here on these pages. If you’d like some additional help picking daily winners, you can always purchase my BEST BETS right here at this very website with your major credit card. If you have any questions about packages that take you through the rest of the NBA Playoffs or to baseball’s All-Star Break, talk to one of my representatives in the Vegas-Sports-Masters office at 1-888-777-4155.

Our next class get-together will be later this week. That will probably be another baseball report, with our next basketball discussion coming early next week in advance of the NBA Finals that begin June 5. The Dean of Sports Handicapping thanks you again for your continued attendance and hard work!

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