The Toronto Blue Jays upgraded their starting rotation by adding right-hander Taijuan Walker from the Seattle Mariners on Thursday. In return, Seattle will receive a player to be named later or cash considerations.
In five starts this season, Walker has a 2-2 record and a 4.00 ERA with 25 strikeouts and eight walks. He is 28 years old and in his eighth season in the major leagues with a career record of 33-33 with a 3.95 ERA.
The addition of Walker should bolster a rotation that has been decimated by injuries as of late with three starters Matt Shoemaker, Nate Pearson and Trent Thornton. All three hit the injured list in the eight days prior to bringing in Walker.
The trade deadline in the 60-game 2020 season will take place on Monday, Aug. 31 and it would appear the Blue Jays are not done yet. After acquiring Walker, Toronto’s general manager Ross Atkins told reporters “I would expect us to be extremely active” prior to the trade deadline, which is Monday, Aug. 31.
#BlueJays’ Ross Atkins on next few days leading into Monday’s trade deadline:
“I would expect us to be extremely active …”
But he added whether or not that turns into actual moves is another story.
It’s clear there’s motivation to add, a theme we saw start last winter.
— Scott Mitchell (@ScottyMitchTSN) August 27, 2020
Atkins said if anymore moves are made by Toronto, it would likely come through pitching and defense, according to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.
“As I mentioned on the last call that we were on, I think we’ll be more focused on the run-prevention side,” he added. “So that could be some type of defensive complement that also provides offense, obviously. But pitching and run prevention will be our focus moving forward.”
Toronto is looking for its third victory in a row on Saturday night when the Blue Jays face the Baltimore Orioles. Toronto beat Baltimore in dramatic fashion on Friday night as Randal Grichuk blasted a two-run home run with two outs in the 10th inning when the Blue Jays were trailing by one run. Toronto won the game 5-4.
Walker will make his first start with Toronto against Orioles’ right-hander Alex Cobb, who is coming in with a 1-2 record and 3.73 ERA.
Here are the odds for the game according to a popular United States sportsbook,
- Baltimore Orioles +1.5 (-139)
- Toronto Blue Jays -1.5 (+117)
- Over 10.5 (-105)
- Under 10.5 (-117)
- Baltimore Orioles +148
- Toronto Blue Jays -175
Toronto has beaten Baltimore five times in a row this season. The game will start at 6:37 p.m. ET.
Walker will be a free agent following the season and depending on what happens in the next few days, Toronto might be going for a big swing at a postseason run. The Blue Jays are currently in third place in the American League East with a 16-14 record, four games behind the Tampa Bay Rays. Toronto should find itself in the hunt for a playoff spot with the MLB postseason expanding to 16 teams in this shortened season.
Let’s take a look at where the Blue Jays stand at the halfway point of the 60-game season. All odds are as of Saturday, Aug. 29.
American League East division odds
The Blue Jays are a bit of a longshot to be crowned the champs of the American League East behind the Rays and New York Yankees but could have value depending what happens prior to Monday’s deadline.
- Tampa Bay Rays -286
- New York Yankees +200
- Toronto Blue Jays +3300
- Baltimore Orioles +5000
- Boston Red Sox +20000
American League odds
Toronto actually has the same exact odds to win the A.L. East division as it does to represent the American League in the World Series. However, plenty of teams are ahead of the Blue Jays according to the oddsmakers, who currently have them with the eighth best odds to win the league. They also are suggesting there is a significant drop off after the top seven teams.
- New York Yankees +225
- Oakland Athletics/Tampa Bay Rays +500
- Minnesota Twins +550
- Houston Astros +700
- Chicago White Sox +800
- Cleveland Indians +800
- Toronto Blue Jays +3300
World Series odds
The Blue Jays are currently tied for 19th best odds to win the World Series with the Miami Marlins and San Francisco Giants.
- Los Angeles Dodgers +380
- New York Yankees +450
- Tampa Bay Rays +900
- Minnesota Twins/Oakland Athletics +1000
- Atlanta Braves +1100
- Chicago Cubs/Houston Astros +1400
- Chicago White Sox/Cleveland Indians +1800
- San Diego Padres +2800
- Milwaukee Brewers/Philadelphia Phillies +3300
- St. Louis Cardinals +3500
- New York Mets +4000
- Cincinnati Reds/Colorado Rockies/Washington Nationals +5000
- Toronto Blue Jays/San Francisco Giants/Miami Marlins +6600
Toronto has a long way to go to accomplish any of these goals, but adding a worthy starter like Walker and potentially bringing in additional pieces could only help with the playoffs only one month away.