MLB Opening Day: OK! Blue Jays! Feeling optimistic? Not so fast

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MLB Opening Day: OK! Blue Jays! Feeling optimistic? Not so fast

So here we are, another new MLB season in our footsteps. Toronto Blue Jays fans, their 2024 season kicks off this afternoon at 4:10 p.m. EST in Tampa against the Rays.

The Jays are underdogs today – 2.15 at BetMGM, with the Rays1.74. Jose Berrios starts for the Blue Jays, Zach Eflin for the Rays.

Where are you with the team? “OK! Blue Jays!” goes the seventh-inning stretch song they play during Rogers Centre games. Not so fast with the optimism. 

This season people are way more measured in terms of their expectations.

There’s a lot of uncertainty there, and that’s shown in MLB odds. At BetMGM, the odds are 1.69 the Blue Jays make the playoffs, 2.40 they don’t, with 57% of tickets onthem missing out, 41% of handle. 

Not a lot of love there. 

Prognosticators generally put them as a playoff possibility, but below the stacked Baltimore Orioles and the New York Yankees, who despite losing defending Cy Young pitcher Gerrit Cole for at least two months with an elbow issue should be able to hit themselves into contention with Aaron Judge and Juan Soto leading the way.

 

 

In the American League East, DraftKings has the Orioles at 2.85 (47% of handle, 39% of bets) and the Yankees at 2.85 (32% of handle, 21% of bets), ahead of the Blue Jays (5.00, 19% of handle, 22% of bets), the Rays (6.50, 2% of handle, 10% of bets) and the Boston Red Sox (18.00, 1% of handle, 7% of bets). In Ontario the L.A. Dodgers are getting the largest percentage of bets at 43% to win the World Series, followed by the Jays at 19%. The Jays are getting 85% of the handle and 46% of bets there to win the American League title (10.50 odds).

Personally, a lot of the uncertainty still comes down to the crashing way their 2023 season came to an end – Jays manager John Schneider inexplicably pulling starting pitcher Jose Berrios after one batter in the fourth inning of Game 2 of their best-of-three wildcard series with the Minnesota Twins (Berrios was cruising after three shutout innings) because of some pre-game pitch count calculation, a lack of timely hitting in the series that was a common thread through the entire 2023 season, and lousy baserunning, punctuated by Vladimir Guerrero Jr., representing the tying run in the sixth, getting picked off by Twins pitcher Sonny Gray on the second base bag. 

The overall optics were awful.

 

 

Don’t believe the people who tell you that was last season, it’s in the past. That game sticks around like bad taste and carried over into spring training. All the minty chewing gum in the world can’t get rid of it. 

The Jays would go out feebly to the Twins that afternoon 2-0. Berrios said this spring it took days to get over that loss. Pitcher Kevin Gausman said the same thing. SS Bo Bichette seemed none too pleased with how that all went down. The organization then made the requisite adjustments – bouncing the hitting coach, promoting Don Mattingly to offensive coordinator.

What that game did was whittle down the patience of the fanbase just a bit more, getting closer to a nerve, particularly since this is the season the team rolls out their new field level seating at Rogers Centre with jacked up ticket prices. With those new prices come big expectations. 

So, the off-season was so-so. They struck out on signing Shohei Ohtani. They picked up free agents Justin Turner and Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Joey Votto and Dan Vogelbach, brought back Kevin Kiermaier, signed Cuban pitcher Yariel Rodriguez.

 

 

For the Jays to win 90+ wins and have a shot at making a playoff run, at least making it to the ALCS, Guerrero Jr. needs to get closer to that 2021 MVP-calibre season (48 HRs, 111 RBIs), which starts with 40+ HRs. RF George Springer at 35 years of age needs to produce more than that 2023 OPS of .732, the worst in his career. They need four of their starters to make 30+ starts, and somehow make up for a dip in defence at third after losing Gold Glover Matt Chapman in free agency.

BetMGM has the Jays’ team win total at 85.5, with the Over-getting 51% of tickets and 36% of handles. There’s still some love out there - according to theScore Bet, 83% of bets are on Guerrero Jr. to smack 33.5 regular season

HRs; 50.2% of bets are on Bichette to lead the MLB in hits (11.00). Latest news yesterday: Nate Pearson and Wes Parsons made the roster, and Jordan Romano, Alek Manoah, and Erik Swanson are headed to the IL. Zach Pop and Rodriguez were sent to Triple A Buffalo.

According to DraftKings, there’s some gutsy Jays’ sports betting out there – one guy put $225 on the Jays to win the AL East (5.00, $900 potential payout), another bettor put $889.20 on the Jays to win the American League (9.50, $7,558.20 potential payout), and another bettor put down $560 on the Jays to win the World Series (18.00, $9,520 potential payout).

 

 MoneylineSpreadOver/Under
BetMGMBlue Jays 2.15,
Rays 1.74
Blue Jays +1.5
(1.55), Rays -1.5
(2.50)
7.5; Over 1.91; Under
1.91
DraftKingsBlue Jays 2.10,
Rays 1.77
Blue Jays +1.5
(1.54), Rays -1.5
(2.54)
7.5; Over 1.87; Under
1.95
888 SportSport Blue Jays 2.15,
Rays 1.71
Sport Blue Jays 2.15,
Rays 1.71
7.5; Over 1.85; Under
1.90

 

MLB AL MVP splits (DraftKings)

  • Julio Rodriguez (7.00, 18% handle, 16% bets)
  • Juan Soto (7.00, 16% handle, 11% bets)
  • Gunnar Henderson (16.00, 10% handle, 8% bets)
  • Bobby Witt Jr. (14.00, 7% handle, 9% bets)
  • Mike Trout (21.00, 6% handle, 8% bets)