Toronto Blue Jays (-105) at Oakland Athletics (-115, 7.5 o/u)
For Josh Donaldson and Brett Lawrie, tonight’s game between the Toronto Blue Jays (47-47, 19-28 road) and Oakland Athletics (43-51, 20-27 home) will mark the first time each has faced his former team since being swapped in the offseason.
Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos has to feel like his squad won the deal, at least so far. Donaldson is batting .288 with 22 dingers and 62 runs batted in, and was (very deservingly) voted into the AL’s starting lineup for the All-Star Game.
However, Lawrie (who was packaged with a number of prospects) is holding his own after a slow start to the year, upping his average to .280 with eight homers and 37 RBIs.
Like Lawrie, himself, the A’s got off to a dreadful start to the season, sitting last in the AL West for much of the first half. But the team has shown signs of late lately, winning four of its last five and crawling out of the division basement. Oakland stayed hot on Sunday, crushing the Twins 14-1. Jake Smolinski and Josh Reddick knocked in four runs apiece to help the A’s win the rubber match of the three-game set.
The Blue Jays dropped four of five before the break, but got off to an encouraging start after the rest, taking two of three from division rival Tampa Bay, including an impressive 4-0 win over Chris Archer in the last game of the series.
Tonight, the Jays will look to ageless wonder Mark Buehrle (10-5, 3.34 ERA) while the A’s counter with young righty Kendall Graveman (6-5, 3.38 ERA) – who was also one of the pieces of the Lawrie/Donaldson trade. Graveman has been getting better as the year progresses, posting a miniscule 1.85 ERA in his last seven starts. However, he was hit hard last time out, giving up seven hits and four earned runs in just 5.2 innings against the Indians.
Buehrle has also been stellar of late, outdoing Graveman with a 1.84 ERA in his last seven. He picked up his tenth win of the year in his last start, going seven strong and giving up two runs on five as the Jays downed KC, 6-2.
Outside of Oakland’s Billy Butler and Ben Zobrist, neither player in either lineup has any significant history against the opposing pitcher. But, for what it’s worth, Butler and Zobrist have had success against Buerhle, hitting .324 and .417 against the hefty lefty , respectively, in 58 combined at-bats.
Betting-wise, this game feels like a toss-up. There’s reason to have some confidence in both pitchers, but the Jays have been subpar on the road and the A’s have been terrible at home. With that in mind, the hard-hitting Jays at a slightly better -105 look like better value.
(Photo credit: Keith Allison (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode].)
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