Free Pick: Tampa Bay Rays ML
Charlie Morton will be taking the mound for Tampa Bay and he owns a 2.25 ERA overall (3.60 on the road). Morton has played well this season, allowing 2 or fewer ER in each of his three starts while giving up 4 or fewer HA and striking out at least 6. Today he’ll face a Toronto team whom he’s done well against in the past. Last year against the Blue Jays (in Houston) he finished with a 0.00 ERA allowing just 4 HA and 0 ER through 7.0 innings. The year before Morton played a game in Rogers Centre and finished with a 1.50 ERA allowing 4 HA and just 1 ER through 6.0 innings – Houston won that game 12-2. The Blue Jays have struggled to surpass the 2 run mark when playing against Morton and this afternoon might not be much different. The team owns a batting average of .190 (27th in the league) with an OBP of .283 (24th in the league) and an SLG of .353 (24th in the league) versus right-handed pitchers this year. They’ve scored just 35 runs off righties this season – ranked 7th lowest in the league. Morton should be in for another good day and should be able to continue his streak of 2 ER or less. In the last 12 games played between Tampa Bay and Toronto inside Rogers Centre (from the start of 2018), the Blue Jays have only surpassed 3 runs 4 times. Considering the history between Morton and Toronto, plus the Tampa Bay bullpen and their 3.10 ERA (ranked 9th in the league), I expect this game to lean more towards Toronto finishing with 3 or less. Run support for Marcus Stroman backs that up with Toronto scoring 1 or fewer runs in each of his 3 starts.
On the other side it’ll be Marcus Stroman pitching for Toronto and he owns a 2.41 ERA overall (1.42 at home). After a nice 0 ER game versus Detroit to start the season, Stroman has now given up at least 2 ER in each of his last two. All three of his games this season have been against weaker hitting teams then he’ll face today (Detroit, Baltimore and Cleveland). In fact, against right-handed pitchers this year all three of those teams rank bottom-8 in the league for both batting average and OPS (right there with Toronto). His test this afternoon figures to be much tougher. Tampa Bay owns a team batting average of .267 (7th in the league) with an OBP of .340 (9th in the league) and an SLG of .472 (6th in the league) versus righties. Starters for the Rays collectively own an .323 batting average, .395 wOBA and .231 ISO against Stroman. He’s 2-5 SU in his career home games versus the Rays (all with Toronto) and for what it’s worth, the Blue Jays have only managed to surpass the 3 run-mark once during those seven home games as well. Last year against the Rays he owned a 6.75 ERA and allowed 11 HA with 5 ER through just 6.2 innings. It looks like this matchup figures to be one that will push Stroman’s home ERA up a bit. Tampa Bay has scored at least 5 runs inside Rogers Centre through four of their last six, including two 11 run games. Run support for Charlie Morton has been pretty good as well. The Rays have scored at least 4 in two of his three starts this season. Toronto does have an average-ranked bullpen owning a 4.15 ERA (14th in the league), but they’ve also given up 10 runs in their last 4 games. Something like 4-5 runs should really be a floor for Tampa Bay.