Toronto Blue Jays playoff preview

For the first time since 2016, the Toronto Blue Jays will be a part of the MLB Playoffs. After a Toronto finished its regular season off with a loss on Sunday, it will begin its wild card round with a series with fellow American League East team the Tampa Bay Rays.

Season Finale Recap

The Blue Jays finished out their 2020 MLB season with a 7-5 loss to the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday, Sept. 27. Toronto lost its chance for a second-place finish in the American League East. Instead, the Blue Jays will hold the final spot in A.L. playoffs.

Toronto jumped out to an early lead on Sunday with a three-run third inning to give the Blue Jays a 4-1 advantage. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. each homered in the third as they went into the fourth inning with a three-run advantage.

The fourth and fifth innings were a struggle for the Blue Jays, which allowed three runs in the fourth and three more in the fifth. as they trailed 7-4. Toronto plated a run in the eighth inning to make it a two-run game. The Blue Jays stranded runners at third base in the eighth and failed to get a runner on in the ninth in the regular season-ending loss.

Gurriel Jr. finished 4-for-4 at the plate with three runs scored and drove in a pair of runs for the Blue Jays. No other player on the roster had more than one hit.

Tanner Roark got the start for Toronto and worked four innings, allowing four runs (two earned) on five hits and two walks. He struck out two batters. Shun Yamaguchi picked up the loss, allowing three runs on four hits and one walk.

The regular season finale loss to Baltimore snapped a four-game winning streak for the Blue Jays to finish the year with a 32-28 overall record for third place in the division and the No. 8 seed in the American League.

Toronto was forced to play its home games in Buffalo due the coronavirus and reached the playoffs in Charlie Montoyo’s second season as the Blue Jays manager, though the team was aided by an expansion of the 2020 MLB Playoffs.

Game 1 Primer

The Blue Jays will open up a wild card round, best-of-three series with the American League’s No. 1 seed Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday, Sept. 29. The series will be played in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. The second game will be held on Wednesday with the potential of a Game 3 on Thursday if necessary.

Both teams enter the playoffs on a bit of a hot streak. Toronto won six of its last eight games, while Tampa Bay won nine of its final 11 games to close out the regular season.

The Blue Jays will roll out righthander Matt Shoemaker on the mound in the first game of the series. He returned to the field on Sept. 21 for his only game since being sidelined with a right shoulder injury. In that game, Shoemaker threw three innings and allowed one run on three hits with two walks and a strikeout for a no-decision in an 11-5 win over the New York Yankees. In six starts in 2020, he has an 0-1 record with a 4.71 earned run average. The Blue Jays are 2-4 in games Shoemaker has appeared in this season. He pitched against the Rays three times and allowed six runs on 10 hits in 15 innings against the A.L. East rival.

For Tampa Bay, Blake Snell will earn the start. The lefthander has a 4-2 record with a 3.24 ERA in 11 starts this season. The Rays are 7-4 in games he’s started this season. Snell faced the Blue Jays twice in 2020 and allowed two runs on seven hits in 7.2 innings pitched. He allowed three runs on six hits and three walks in his last start against the New York Mets.

The winner of the series will advance to play either the No. 4 seed Cleveland Indians or No. 5 Yankees in the American League Divisional Series, which is scheduled to start on Monday, Oct. 5. ALDS games will be held at Petco Park in San Diego and Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.

For a preview of Game 1, which starts at 5 p.m. ET on Tuesday, here is a look at what the oddsmakers are suggesting.

All odds are via a popular United States sportsbook.

Run Line

  • Toronto Blue Jays +1.5 (-130)
  • Tampa Bay Rays -1.5 (+107)

Total Runs

  • Over 7.5 (+102)
  • Under 7.5 (-124)

Moneyline

  • Toronto Blue Jays (+170)
  • Tampa Bay Rays (-200)

Total Runs by Toronto

  • Over 2.5 (-134)
  • Under 2.5 (+115)

Total Runs by Tampa Bay

  • Over 4.5 (+116)
  • Under 4.5 (-136)

Futures Odds

American League Winner Odds

  • New York Yankees +280
  • Tampa Bay Rays +300
  • Oakland Athletics +500
  • Minnesota Twins +550
  • Chicago White Sox/Cleveland Indians +650
  • Houston Astros +1100
  • Toronto Blue Jays +1500

World Series Winner Odds

  • Los Angeles Dodgers +350
  • New York Yankees/Tampa Bay Rays +600
  • Minnesota Twins/Oakland Athletics/San Diego Padres +1000
  • Atlanta Braves +1100
  • Chicago Cubs/Chicago White Sox/Cleveland Indians +1500
  • Houston Astros +2500
  • Cincinnati Reds +2600
  • Miami Marlins/Milwaukee Brewers/St. Louis Cardinals +3300
  • Toronto Blue Jays +3500
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