Free Picks: Toronto Blue Jays vs Texas Rangers

Blue Jays vs Rangers Week 16
Toronto Blue Jays vs Texas Rangers, MLB, Sahlen Field

The Toronto Blue Jays (45-42) will face the Texas Rangers (35-55) to begin a three-game series on Friday, marking their first matchup since the first week of April. Texas took two of three games at home in that series, but the teams have gone in vastly different directions since then. The Rangers are in the basement of the American League West, without a prayer of making the postseason. The Blue Jays, meanwhile, are in position to push for a playoff berth — so long as their pitching can keep up with their star-studded offensive lineup.

Is Robbie Ray on his way to a legitimate Cy Young candidacy?

When the Blue Jays signed Robbie Ray to a one-year, $8 million deal this past offseason, the union was easy to understand: Ray needed to prove himself, and Toronto was willing to be the team to let him try.

What’s unfolded since is a renaissance campaign for Ray, whose eyes should be saucer-sized when he thinks ahead to his free agency earning potential. Ray is 7-4 with a 3.13 ERA in 17 starts this season, and he has a chance to toss a fifth consecutive quality start on Friday when the Blue Jays host the Rangers as -238 money line favorites (10Bet) on the day’s MLB picks. Conversely, the Ragers are +190 money line underdogs (10Bet) after losing three consecutive series.

The Rangers have the second-lowest team OPS in the AL (.687), and they’re likely in a tough spot in this game against Ray. He’s coming off seven innings of scoreless, one-hit ball, in which he walked one and struck out 11. He has allowed just six runs in his past four starts (2.08 ERA), with five walks versus 33 strikeouts in that span.

His key this year has been the walks (or lack thereof). Ray has a career-low 2.1 walks-per-nine rate, practically half of his 4.1 BB/9 career rate. He’s always been a high-strikeout guy, but now he’s not losing nearly as many hitters via the free pass.

Nobody loves the free pass more than Rangers outfielder Joey Gallo, who leads the majors with 72 walks (no one else has more than 60). Gallo has been rumored as a trade deadline target for the Blue Jays, so this series could be a potential showcase for him. But again, Ray has been tough on everyone lately.

Texas is countering with Jordan Lyles (5-5, 4.86 ERA), who has won his past three starts and has a 3.79 ERA over his past seven. That’s a solid stretch, but Lyles hasn’t had to face this Blue Jays lineup before. Only one current Blue Jay, Marcus Semien, has faced Lyles in at least 10 at-bats, and Semien has a 1.138 OPS against him.

Earlier this season, we might’ve suggested that the Rangers could possibly get to Ray with the home run ball. But that doesn’t seem very likely anymore, given that Ray has allowed just six homers over his past 42 2/3 innings.

We tried, Texas fans. But Toronto is in great shape to win this matchup with arguably its best pitcher on the mound and a healthy, loaded lineup to back him up. We’ll roll with the Blue Jays on the money line in this BetPicks prediction, expecting that they’ll start the second half strong. 

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  • Toronto is 4-6 on the money line in its past 10
  • The UNDER has cashed in five of the Blue Jays’ past seven games
  • Texas is 4-6 on the money line in its past 10
  • The OVER has cashed in six of the Rangers’ past 10 games

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Jordan Horrobin is a freelance sports journalist based in Toronto, Ontario, who enjoys sports-related research and telling engaging stories. His work can also be found at Sportsnet, Forbes and elsewhere. Though he abandoned most of his team-specific fandoms in the interest of unbiased analysis, Jordan roots hard for his fantasy football/hockey teams (and he's a complete homer for all things Ohio University).