The Toronto Blue Jays will look to get back on track when they continue a four-game series against the Minnesota Twins on Friday night at Target Field. Minnesota picked up a 7-2 win in the series opener on Thursday night to cash in as a +128 underdog. Toronto is now one game out of an AL Wild Card spot at 85-68, while Minnesota remains in last place in the AL Central at 68-85.
These teams met just last week weekend in Toronto, with the Blue Jays taking two of three.
Toronto loses more ground in playoff race as offense stumblesThe Blue Jays picked the wrong time for their hot streak to end, as they have now lost three of their last four after being handled in Minnesota on Thursday night and are a full game out of the AL Wild Card. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. gave Toronto an early lead in the second inning with an RBI double while Teoscar Hernandez launched a solo shot in the fourth, yet that would be it for one of MLB's best offenses as Toronto stranded 13 on base.
Teoscar Hernandez - Toronto Blue Jays (30) pic.twitter.com/j2uj0QqCdQ— MLB HR Videos (@MLBHRVideos) September 24, 2021
Starter Steven Matz lasted just three innings, surrendering two runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out six. Thomas Hatch was charged with the loss in relief for allowing three earned runs on one hit and three walks in 1.2 innings of work. Hernandez added a double and scored both Toronto runs for the game in a standout performance on an otherwise quiet night.
The second half surge has helped Toronto be a good gambling team overall at 79-70 against the spread while being up slightly on the money line. Overs are 64-78-7 for Toronto, with five of its last six games going under the betting total.
Toronto is among the elite offenses in baseball with an average of 5.22 runs per game and an MLB-best 0.793 OPS, numbers that have only gotten better the last month. The Blue Jays pitching staff is also in the top 10 with a 3.89 collective ERA while posting a strong 3.08 K/BB ratio.
Deadline acquisition Jose Berrios will take the mound on Friday against his former team looking to continue a fantastic season, as he's 12-8 with a 3.45 ERA and 187 strikeouts in 180 innings between the Blue Jays and Twins. Berrios picked up another win over these Twins last time out, allowing three runs on four hits and one walk while striking out six across 6.2 innings of work. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has a shot at the triple crown with a .323/.413/.617 line, 46 homers and 105 RBI.
Toronto is missing a couple of depth pieces, with third baseman Santiago Espinal (strained hip flexor) and outfielder Cavan Biggio (back tightness) both on the IL. Starting pitcher Hyun Jin Ryu hit the IL with neck stiffness following a rough start last weekend. Relievers David Phelps (lat surgery) and Kirby Yates (Tommy John surgery) are both out for the year.
Pineda, bullpen help Twins play spoilerThe Twins are at least trying to close a nightmare season on a positive note, and have now won three straight as a beleaguered pitching staff shut down Toronto on Thursday night. Jorge Polanco and Mitch Garver got the Twins going in the bottom of the third with singles before Luis Arraez's RBI groundout put them ahead for good in the fifth, and Nick Gordon would deliver the big blow later that inning on a three-run homer.
Nick Gordon entered tonight hitting .342/.405/.605 over his last 13 games. Then he did this to a poor baseball:— Nash Walker (@Nashwalker9) September 24, 2021
Michael Pineda navigated traffic for five innings, allowing two runs on eight hits and a walk while striking out two to pick up the twin. The bullpen was spotless, with Ralph Garza Jr. picking up his first career save. Gordon had a big game going 3-4 with four RBI, while Mitch Garver added three hits himself.
It has been a horrendous season for the Twins gambling wise at 60-92 against the spread while being down a huge amount on the money line, as they expected to compete for a postseason spot entering the year. Overs are a strong 84-60-8 for the Twins, including 6-4 in their last 10 games.
Offense has not been the problem for the Twins, who are averaging 4.50 runs per game while slugging 215 homers as a team, second-most in the AL behind only Toronto. Minnesota's pitching staff has fallen apart with a 4.88 collective ERA while allowing 1.54 home runs per nine innings, both bottom five marks in baseball.
Rookie Bailey Ober will be on the mound Friday night after losing this matchup to the Blue Jays last weekend, when he allowed four runs on four hits and two walks across four innings while striking out three. The 26-year-old has flashed some potential in a solid rookie season, going 2-3 with a 4.34 ERA in 19 starts. Jorge Polanco is quietly having a great season to lead the Twins offense with an 0.841 OPS, 31 homers, 10 steals and 90 RBI.
This is about as healthy as the Twins have been all season, but outfielders Kyle Garlick (sports hernia), Alex Kirilloff (wrist surgery) and Rob Refsnyder (elbow impingement) are all on the IL. Starting pitcher Kenta Maeda could miss all of 2022 after undergoing Tommy John surgery, while John Gant (strained abdominal), Lewis Thorpe (shoulder discomfort), Edwar Colina (elbow surgery) and Randy Dobnak (strained finger) are out. Minnesota will be without its best reliever in Taylor Rogers (sprained finger) for the rest of the year, with Cody Stashak (back discomfort) and Devin Smeltzer (elbow inflammation) also on the IL.
- 4-1 in its last five games against the AL Central.
- 10-3 in its last 13 road games.
- 19-7 in its last 26 games overall.
Trends via Covers.com. Minnesota is:
- 3-10 in its last 13 games against the AL East.
- 2-7 in its last nine home games.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
While the Blue Jays have finally slowed down this week, this is a great matchup to get back on track as Berrios has been fantastic since the trade deadline. Ober has had a solid rookie season overall, but this Toronto lineup is a tough assignment for anyone let alone an inexperienced pitcher, and the Minnesota bullpen certainly isn't good enough to make up for it.
In the 10 starts since being acquired by the Blue Jays, Berrios has been stellar with a 3.39 ERA while allowing just 11 walks in 58.1 innings. Should Berrios continue pitching at that level, the Blue Jays are going to be tough to beat when he's on the hill, as they have a 112 wRC+ at the plate to rank second in the Majors with very few easy outs in the lineup at the moment.
Even though Ober is decent, the Twins have been limiting him to around four innings per start recently, and Minnesota's bullpen doesn't have the depth to cover the rest of the game with a 4.46 ERA on the season and Rogers' absence looming large. Bet on Berrios to handle Minnesota again, with the elite Blue Jays lineup continuing to pile up runs against one of baseball's worst pitching staffs.
Full-Game Total Pick
No matter the pitching matchup, these are two teams that have produced a lot of high-scoring games with too many prolific home runs hitters to hold down forever. Minnesota has maintained a solid 100 wRC+ for the season despite all the problems, and this is the best version of the Twins lineup we have seen for several weeks with Byron Buxton finally back healthy and producing like a superstar with a 147 wRC+ in addition to Miguel Sano being on a hot streak.
Ober is only middling by FIP with a mark of 4.68 while allowing too many homers, and this Blue Jays offense can take advantage as it is still piling up over seven runs per game in September. The Toronto offense will bounce back from the rough showing on Thursday and produce plenty against a rookie starter in Ober to get an over here.