In the new best of three Wild Card Series, every game after the first is an elimination game, so here we are; the Toronto Blue Jays already have their backs up against the wall after losing game one to the Minnesota Twins. With two playoff-worthy pitchers set to take the mound, let’s take a look at the odds and make some picks for this American League playoff matchup, where my prediction is for the Twins to pick up the win and shut the door on this series.
Blue Jays Vs. Twins Prediction
At long last, the Minnesota Twins have won a playoff game. The losing streak spanned 18 games, but 19 years after Johan Santana helped the team to a victory over the Yankees, the Twins took down another AL East foe, the Toronto Blue Jays, to put themselves in a commanding position in this short series.
The legendary Santana was in his age-25 season when he pulled off the feat, and on Tuesday, the Twins were ushered to victory by another youngster; rookie Royce Lewis. He only played 58 regular season games, but finished with 15 homers in those contests, and he cracked two more to generate all the offense Minnesota would need to win 3-1. Pablo López chipped in a good start as he gave up the one run and worked through almost six innings, and was credited with the win.
The Twins’ decision to save staff ace Sonny Gray for a potential elimination game paid off; now they’ll have him available to secure the team’s first postseason series win since knocking off the A’s in the 2002 ALDS. Gray had another phenomenal season for Minnesota; after tossing an ERA just over 3.00 in 24 starts last year, he posted a figure of 2.79 this year, good for third-best in the majors. Against a Milwaukee team that finished 23rd in OPS, he should have no trouble putting in a good performance.
He’ll be battling against José Berríos, who wasn’t quite at the top of the leaderboard for key stats the way Gray was, but put in a very nice year of his own. Toronto’s rotation is one of the team’s most prominent strengths, but staff ace Kevin Gausman was nowhere near good enough in game one, as he allowed the pair of homers and exited after using 73 pitches to get through four innings. That put an enormous burden on the bullpen, with most key arms other than closer Jordan Romano burned in the loss, so Berríos could be pushed pretty hard to get deep into this game, a real issue for someone who puts up a 2.72 ERA in the first three innings, and a figure of 4.87 in the next three.
Put simply enough, Gray and a bullpen that is a bit less taxed, as well as of course serving as the host for this series, give Minnesota a major advantage in this one. This Jays team has some serious arms, but their best one let them down at the worst time, and the lineup is nowhere close to pulling its own weight. I’m not sure I want to bet the total in this one as it would be under or nothing, and with a number as low as 7.5, there may not be enough wiggle room to play that line, so let’s just stick with the low-hanging fruit and take the Twins on the moneyline.
Blue Jays Vs. Twins Prediction: Twins ML (-130)
Blue Jays Vs. Twins Odds
TOR @ MIN
Oct. 04, 3:38 PM
Odds updated October 4th, 2023, at 6:29 pm
The Twins are -130 favorites on the moneyline with +165 odds to cover a spread of -1.5, while the Blue Jays are +110 and -185 respectively on the other ends of those lines. For a total of 7.5, both sides are -110 to hit.
Blue Jays Vs. Twins Key Matchups
Both of these starters are tough to hit, but neither is infallible, so let’s get into some ways each one can be challenged by the opposing lineup.
José Berrios Vs. Power Hitters
Berríos limits walks and hard hits pretty well, but will give up some barrels and thus home runs. That being said, he could be in trouble against a Minnesota team that finished third in the majors with 233 home runs, with plenty of power bats up and down the lineup.
It was a fairly balanced effort as Max Kepler led the way with 24 homers, followed by fellow outfielders Michael A. Taylor and Joey Gallo with 21 each, although the latter is on the IL right now. Carlos Correa smacked 18 homers while leading the team with 135 games played, and second baseman Edouard Julien chipped in nicely with 16 in limited time. Of course, Lewis had a great power surge after coming up to the bigs, and that’s already been covered above, but he is perhaps the preeminent power threat in this lineup’s current form.
Sonny Gray Vs. Lefty Bats
Gray had the best FIP in the majors with a figure of 2.83 and allowed the fewest homers per nine innings of work with a rate of just 0.4, so there really are not too many holes in his game. His level of dominance is a major reason I have his Twins hitting their -130 moneyline in my Blue Jays vs. Twins prediction. That being said, he had a modest but noticeable platoon split, preferring to face fellow righties.
Brandon Belt was the Jays’ best lefty bat this year, he put up an OPS of .858 in limited time. Cavan Biggio once again failed to fully live up to his potential, and Kevin Kiermaier offered a similar level of production. Daulton Varsho underperformed as well, and also had a reverse split, so there’s not too many threats to Gray’s success to be found in this lineup.
Blue Jays Vs. Twins Starting Lineups
Blue Jays Starting Lineup
RF G. Springer R
DH B. Belt L
1B V. Guerrero Jr. R
SS B. Bichette R
2B C. Biggio L
C A. Kirk R
CF K. Kiermaier L
3B M. Chapman R
LF D. Varsho L
Twins Starting Lineup
2B E. Julien L
3B J. Polanco S
DH R. Lewis
RF M. Kepler L
1B A. Kirilloff L
SS C. Correa R
C R. Jeffers R
LF M. Wallner L
CF M. Taylor R