Free Picks: Washington Nationals vs Toronto Blue Jays

Jordan Horrobin
Jordan Horrobin
MLB Free Picks – Best Bets of the Week
Nationals vs Blue Jays Week 5
Washington Nationals vs Toronto Blue Jays, MLB, TD Ballpark

The Washington Nationals (8-11) will travel to Florida to face the Toronto Blue Jays (10-11), where they could be greeted by star outfielder George Springer making his season debut for Toronto. That’s far from final at this point, but it’s been reported as an option, with Springer nearing the very end of his rehab from a quad injury. What we know for sure is that this matchup features two starting pitchers with sub-2.00 ERAs, which could make for a compelling duel in Dunedin.

Return of Springer is possible, and Blue Jays’ bullpen continues to dazzle

Let’s look at George Springer more closely for just a second. Springer, who battled through an oblique injury earlier this spring, is now just about ready to return from a quad injury that followed shortly thereafter. Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo has been quoted as saying “we’re not going to rush him,” but that was in the context of Springer possibly returning this past weekend. We can’t say for sure when he’ll be back, but Tuesday is a possibility; and whenever it is, he’s bound to have a positive effect on the Blue Jays.

With or without Springer, the Blue Jays enter Tuesday night’s home matchup with the Nationals as +115 underdogs on the money line (10Bet) among the available MLB picks. Washington, meanwhile, serves as a -141 favorites (10Bet).

Both teams are coming off an off-day, and therefore their bullpens should be well rested, but the Nationals are hoping that won’t matter much. Their ace, Max Scherzer (1-1, 1.80 ERA), is on the mound, and he has given his team a chance to win in all four starts so far this season. Scherzer has had excellent career results against the Blue Jays — 4-2, 2.00 ERA in 10 starts — but then again, he’s had excellent results against most everyone. The three-time Cy Young winner and seven-time all-star is closing in on the top-20 all-time strikeout list.

The Blue Jays will counter with Trent Thornton (0-0, 1.86 ERA), who has been strong in a much smaller sample: 9 2/3 innings versus Scherzer’s 25. Thornton will be an opener, likely pitching two or so innings before giving the game over to the bullpen. The last time he did that, he tossed two scoreless innings versus Boston and Toronto went on to a 6-3 victory.

The Blue Jays’ bullpen is coming off a statement game of sorts, too, allowing no runs on two hits and a walk in 5 1/3 innings Sunday against the Rays. Incredibly, despite injuries to their top three candidates at the closer position, the Blue Jays hold the lowest bullpen ERA in the majors so far (2.10 ERA). They’re also top five in WHIP (1.12) and opponent batting average (.203).

Washington enters this game having generated very little offensive spark of late. The Nationals have scored just 25 runs in their past nine games (2.78 runs per game), and yet they’ve somehow won five of those nine. Perhaps they’ve met their match now, though, with Toronto’s stout relief corps.

It’s never easy to bet against a guy like Scherzer, we know, but Toronto’s underdog status while boasting the league’s best bullpen makes them a high-value BetPicks prediction in our minds.

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  • Washington is 5-5 on the money line in its past 10
  • The UNDER has cashed in eight of the Nationals’ past 10 games
  • Toronto is 5-5 on the money line in its past 10
  • The UNDER has cashed in seven of the Blue Jays’ past nine games

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).