The Toronto Blue Jays (35-28, 17-11 home) battle the Houston Astros (36-26, 18-12 away) in the final matchup of a four-game series between a pair of American League contenders. Houston rolled in the series opener, and Toronto followed up with victories in games two and three to take a 2-1 advantage.
The first pitch of Thursday’s contest is at 7:07 p.m. EST inside the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario. Houston is the betting favorite (-130 moneyline), while the over/under total is 8.5 runs.
What to Know – Houston Astros
Houston has lost three of its last four contests but remains one of the top teams in the AL. The Astros are in second place in the AL West, trailing the Texas Rangers by 4.5 games.
Looking to get the Astros back in the win column is left-hander Framber Valdez (6-4, 2.16 ERA, 1.03 WHIP). The southpaw has three straight starts and four of his last five trips to the mound. Over 79.0 innings of action, Valdez has surrendered 19 earned runs on 65 hits and 16 walks while striking out 84 batters.
The Astros’ offense ranks 17th in the majors with a .247 team batting average and scores 4.5 runs per game. Houston’s pitching staff is the best in the MLB, featuring a 3.25 team earned run average.
Yordan Alvarez continues to be the engine of the Astros’ offense, ranking fourth in the MLB with 17 home runs and first with 55 runs batted in. In seven games this month, Alvarez has already swatted three home runs and driven in seven runners. Kyle Tucker, Alex Bregman, and Jeremy Pena are tied for second on the team with eight home runs apiece.
What to Know – Toronto Blue Jays
Toronto has gotten hot this month, winning six of its first seven games in June. The Blue Jays sit in fourth place in the AL East, 9.5 games outside of the leading Tampa Bay Rays.
Jose Berrios (5-4, 3.66 ERA, 1.25 WHIP) gets the nod on the hill for the Blue Jays. The 29-year-old has been stellar over his last three outings, limiting opposing offenses to two earned runs over 18.2 innings of work. For the season, Berrios has tossed 71.1 innings, allowing 29 earned runs, 67 hits, 22 walks while striking out 68 batters.
Offensively, the Blue Jays are third amongst league teams hitting .264 as a team while averaging 4.6 runs per contest. The pitching staff for Toronto ranks ninth in the majors with a 3.83 team ERA.
The 25-year-old Bo Bichette is putting together his best season at the dish since making his MLB debut five years ago. Bichette leads the Blue Jays in home runs (14) and RBIs (42) and is hitting a career-best .331, which is second-best in the MLB. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is right behind Bichette with nine home runs and 28 RBIs.
The Pick is In
Two excellent offenses go head to head in the finale against a pair of formidable starting pitchers.
Toronto is playing well right now, and the home-field advantage will help, but we like the Astros to pull out the series finale behind a strong pitching effort from Valdez.
The Pick: Houston Astros ML