Tampa Bay Rays vs. Toronto Blue Jays May 16 Free Pick


It’s not often I play dogs here at SBL, which makes it even more special when we cash one. Danny Valencia, yea! We’re 6-3 coming into the last play of a front-loaded May. Starting in June, I’ll distribute my picks more evenly throughout the month.

I’m intrigued by the Rays/Jays tonight because I feel good capping both starters and the home team has returned to Canada after its slugger was beaten seriously yesterday.

The fight wasn’t really the first reason why I took a closer look at this matchup – I’ve seen a good amount of both Happ and Smyly in the first month-and-a-half of the season. I expect Happ to be pretty good tonight. He’s been really great this season and, actually, the only start that he’s given up more than two came against Tampa Bay right at the end of April. That was at the Trop, which might explain why he only got six groundballs. That’a Happ’s lowest total on the year, besides when he had only two in his first start of the season; that was at the Trop too (6IP, 2ER). No one has benefited more from the new grass infield at the Rogers Centre than Happ, who has double-digit GB outs in each of his three home starts. But if he’s been better than quality in two starts against the Rays on an artificial infield, why shouldn’t Happ be even better on an infield he trusts? The Rays have seen him quite a bit. And some of their guys are comfortable against Happ’s sinker — if you can get +500 or better on Evan Longoria going yard tonight, play it. The angle tonight is that Happ will be good. I can only hope for better.

Drew Smyly is so good that I always expect him to be tough, but that feels like a ceiling tonight. Part of it has to do with the fight, which I’ll mention now. The Blue Jays are 19-20 entering their 40th game of the season. If they’re a contender, that will sink in now, in the middle of May right after Jose Bautista got socked by Rougned Odor. But with every week that passes, I question more and more how much better Toronto can get; it can’t get much from Bautista, Josh Donaldson, Michael Saunders, Kevin Pillar or Darwin Barney. Troy Tulowitzki can still become a super hero, and it’s what must happen, but it’s not likely to happen tonight against a guy who has struck him out three times in four at-bats and generally owns right-handed hitters who like to pull the ball. I would say the same thing about both Edwin Encarnacion and Russell Martin, just a little less emphatically. Smyly is a very bad matchup for Mr. Tulowitzki. sbl

Then there are his results against the Jays from two games this season: eight hits allowed and five homers. I considered both schools of thought in the process but my conclusion is that I don’t expect much of anything to change in start number three. Toronto struggles to hit Smyly because they are so right-handed and pull-happy. But Smyly will still more than likely make a couple mistakes that he’ll pay for. The five homers he’s given up have accounted for only six Blue Jays runs. That’s not just luck – baserunners are at a premium against Smyly. But it also doesn’t have me eager to take a fragile under (4.5/8.5, 5/CG).

This isn’t easy. I lean under because Smyly just might find a way to avoid the home run ball, which would probably account for most of Toronto’s scoring anyway. I also lean Toronto because of its superior offense that has realized its power against Smyly and Happ coming home. Mmmmmmm.. mmmmmmmmm.. mmmmmmmmmmmmmm………..

Free Pick: Blue Jays -124 (0.5 units)

YTD: 11-7-1 +2.79

2015: 31-25-5 +1.09

2014: 45-28-3 +9.02

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