After sweeping through their first round opponents with relative ease, the Toronto Blue Jays prepare to meet the Cleveland Indians for the AL pennant, in what will be the first ever playoff meeting between the two teams (Series starts 8.08pm ET, Friday on TBS).
Ending the regular season tied with the Baltimore Orioles, the Blue Jays outlasted their AL East sparring partner in extra innings in the do-or-die wildcard play-in game. Following this, it was a repeat of last year’s divisional series with once again the same results. Only this time, Toronto didn’t need five games to oust the AL best Texas Rangers, just a clean three.
For the Indians, who finished the season on top in the AL Central, their ALDS pitted them against playoff perennials and perhaps sentimental favorite, the Boston Red Sox. It seemed this one would go the distance but after two wins at home, Cleveland took the show to Fenway Park and ended the night celebrating on Boston’s field following a sweep.
Both of these teams are well rested, both of these teams have talented line-ups and both have already exceeded their expectations this season. The Best-of-Seven ALCS has shaped up to be a good one as these two young and hungry ball clubs are looking to return to the World Series for the first time in over 15 years, since 1997 for Cleveland and 1993 for Toronto.
Let us take a closer look at the factors at play before we conclude this ALCS preview with our betting predictions and picks.
Both these teams are more than capable of scoring runs. In fact, according to MLB team statistics, both are in the top 10 in this category and top 5 among American League teams. It is just in how they score the runs which tends to be a little different.
The Blue Jays, who boast a line-up of two 35+ and another four 20+ home run hitters, finished the regular season in fourth in this category (221) and third in the AL. Of those four teams however, Toronto is the only one still alive in the playoffs. You have to go a little further down the list, to 18th in MLB, to find the Indians.
Cleveland actually has scored more runs during the regular season than Toronto, edging the Blue Jays 777 to 759 in this statistic and 733 to 728 in RBI. They have done this through a combination of speed as they are 1st in AL in stolen bases with 134, consistency, as their team average of .262 is fourth best in the AL and sixth in all of baseball and gap power, as they are 3rd in MLB with 308 doubles.
Both teams have done well to get on base, ranking in the top 10 in MLB in OBP and top four in the AL. Both are also in the top four in working out walks, with Toronto leading the AL in this category at 632 base on balls to Cleveland’s 531.
To put these offensive numbers into context a little bit, this preview must look at the pitching and at how both teams’ starting five and bullpen match up against the offense of the other.
We will start with Toronto, who leads the AL in ERA at a clip of just 3.78 and WHIP at 1.23. As these things tend to go, it should be no surprise that the ALCS would pit both the leading and second-leading (3.84 ERA; 1.24 WHIP) pitching squads against the other.
When it comes to the Blue Jays, everyone knows their strength. It’s not in manufacturing runs through small ball like the Indians use, but rather through brute force and tearing the cover off of baseballs. They are a power-lineup and a home run hitting team. Fortunately, this could bode well against the Indians, who rank eighth in the AL out of 15 teams, in home runs allowed. In the postseason, they have already allowed three home runs in three games and the Blue Jays have astonishingly hit 10 in just four. In addition, Progressive Field, which hosts this series, ranks 5th in all of baseball in home runs hit. If Toronto continues at their torrid pace, it will be tough for Cleveland to keep the Blue Jays off the board.
Perhaps another disparaging stat for the Indians is that the Blue Jays work out a lot of walks, most in the AL with 632 and Cleveland, it issues a lot of them, 461 to be exact which is tied for 11th in the league. On the flip side, as a power-hitting team, Toronto does strike out quite often, fourth highest in the AL, whereas the Indians are the best pitching staff at creating the Ks, leading the AL with 1,398 on the season.
From a pitching standpoint for the Blue Jays, the biggest thing they’ll have to worry about is what happens when Cleveland gets on base, which as already mentioned in this preview, happens quite frequently thanks to walks and a solid batting average. The Indians lead the AL in stolen bases and likely will get their fair share of opportunities to swipe bags in this series. On the whole, Blue Jays’ pitching has only a 19.23 percent success rate at catching guys stealing, which is 28th in MLB. Opposing teams have taken advantage of this, stealing 84 times against Toronto during the regular season.
Our Preview’s Toronto Blue Jays vs Cleveland Indians Betting Predictions & Picks
Taking a minute to look at just the postseason numbers shows that the Jays are hot right now, incredibly so. They have scored 27 runs in four games, an average of just under seven per contest compared to 15 in three for the Indians.
The Blue Jays also lead all of the 10 postseason teams in doubles, home runs, RBI, slugging and OPS (and it’s not even close as second place is nearly .80 points behind in both). Yes, they’ve played one more game than the Indians, but the numbers are still staggering. This has to affect this preview’s thoughts regarding betting predictions.
Power hitting teams tend to streak like this though so it shouldn’t be that surprising. What it really comes down to though, is how much do you believe the Jays can sustain this pace? As mentioned, the Indians have a great starting staff but their weaknesses play right into Toronto’s strengths. Outside of Corey Kluber (pictured), who will get the ball in game one and who provides an even match-up with Marco Estrada, Toronto’s rotation is just a little bit better throughout. Their bullpen can be shaky at times and as we saw with the San Francisco Giants, that can be costly. But if the Jays get a lead early, their offensive potency should keep them in it.
With regards our ALCS series’ predictions, and we advise your wagers are placed with the best of the offshore US betting sites, don’t expect this one to be a sweep as both of these teams are strong in the offensive and pitching departments. But if the Jays can continue to smash the ball the way they have been, which will be an easier task given Progressive’s tendency to be a home run hitters’ park, Toronto will advance to the World Series for the first time in 23 years.
- So for the series betting picks’ predictions, this preview reckons the Blue Jays will win it in six. But the bet to have is simpler: Just take Toronto to win the series and that is at best odds of -140 with BetOnline Sportsbook. It is -145 with Bovada and 5Dimes.
The schedule for the championship series, with all games on TBS, is as follows:
- Game 1: Friday, Oct. 14: Blue Jays at Indians, 8:08pm
- Game 2: Saturday, Oct. 15: Blue Jays at Indians, 4:08pm
- Game 3: Monday, Oct. 17: Indians at Blue Jays, 8:08pm
- Game 4: Tuesday, Oct. 18: Indians at Blue Jays, TBD
- Game 5 (if required): Wednesday, Oct. 19: Indians at Blue Jays, TBD
- Game 6 (if required):: Friday, Oct. 21: Blue Jays at Indians, TBD
- Game 7 (if required):: Saturday, Oct. 22: Blue Jays at Indians, TBD