Blue Jays vs Astros Predictions, Picks, Odds: Defending Champs Make First Move

Blue Jays vs Astros Predictions, Picks, Odds: Defending Champs Make First Move


MLB odds, predictions, and picks for Toronto Blue Jays at Houston Astros on April 18. MLB free pick for Blue Jays-Astros.

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The Toronto Blue Jays are 10-7 for the season and could be a serious contender in the American League this season.

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That is if their starting pitching can turn around… Kevin Gausman was the latest Blue Jays starter to get shelled in the first inning in last night’s 9-2 series-opening victory by the Astros.

Tonight, Chris Bassitt will try to buck that trend when he toes the rubber against fellow right-hander Jose Urquidy, but did Gausman help kickstart what was a struggling Astros lineup?

I break down this American League matchup and bring you my best bet in MLB picks and predictions Blue Jays vs. Astros.

Blue Jays vs Astros odds

Blue Jays vs Astros predictions

Starting pitching has been a problem for the Toronto Blue Jays… literally. Yes, the starting pitching has been bad, but it’s been particularly bad in the first inning.

Kevin Gausman’s early-game struggles last night were the latest example. If you were even a little late turning on the game last night, you missed all the action as Gausman got hammered for two homers and seven runs in the first inning. And before you knew it, the game was over.

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Right now, Toronto starters have a combined ERA of 5.94, good for… 26th in MLB, with a first-inning ERA of 11.7. That looks more like a strikeouts per nine number than an ERA and it’s honestly a little shocking they’re 10-7 with numbers like that.

Now, Chris Bassitt will try to buck that trend on Tuesday night. He’s been better since his Blue Jays debut in St. Louis where he surrendered four first-inning runs and three homers. Since then, he’s posted consecutive quality starts, allowing two earned runs on three hits against the Angels and then two runs on four hits vs. the Tigers.

But once again, in that first inning against the Angles, he gave up a towering bomb to Mike Trout. The Houston Astros have some guys who are capable of that… guys who also have solid numbers against Bassitt: Yordan Alvarez is 4-10 in his career vs. Bassitt with three dingers, while Alex Bregman is 7-19 with two doubles and a dinger.

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And while the top of the Blue Jays batting order is as good as it gets in baseball, Astros starter Jose Urquidy has yet to allow a first-inning run this season on just one hit and Houston allows the second-fewest first-inning runs in MLB as a team. At plus money, I’m backing Houston to get on the board first.

My best bet: Astros to score first (+128 at SIA)

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Blue Jays vs Astros moneyline analysis

This game opened at basically a coin flip with both teams listed at -110, but the early action has been on the home team with the Astros now in the -115 range. And to be honest, Houston still feels a little undervalued at that number.

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The Jays are only slight underdogs here for a few reasons. One is because of their dangerous lineup that ranks fifth in batting average and seventh in OPS when facing right-handed pitching. And two, because Bassitt has pitched better in his last two starts. And three, the Astros hitters have been off to a slow start this season.

But that last thing doesn’t look like a problem anymore after Gausman woke up the Houston bats. Remember, this is a team that ranked fifth in slugging and seventh in OPS on the way to a World Series a year ago.

And yes, Bassitt has been better but his Baseball Savant page looks like a Simpsons sky with all the blue on it. Additionally, he hasn’t had a ton of success against the Astros in the past. He hasn’t faced off against them since 2021, but he made two starts against them that season and allowed nine runs on 12 hits in 9 2/3 innings.

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Both teams have dangerous lineups but I’d lean toward the Astros at home given the inconsistency of Toronto’s starting pitching.

Blue Jays vs Astros Over/Under analysis

The total for this AL matchup hit the board at 9 and that’s where it remains as of Thursday afternoon.

While I like the Astros to strike first, I’m staying away from the full-game total here because I can see a wide array of outcomes in this matchup. Both teams are capable of blowout victories and a close game is also on the table, either high or low-scoring.

Bassitt has had some bad innings but has been better. This Astros team broke out of its slump last night but still ranks 12th in batting average and 19th in OPS. On the other side, Urquidy is pitching well heading into this one but he’s been a little lucky too. His FIP of 4.31 is nearly two runs higher than his 2.35 ERA and now faces this talented Jays lineup.

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Blue Jays vs Astros game info

Location: Minute Maid Park, Houston, TX
Date: Tuesday, April 18, 2023
First pitch: 8:10 pm ET
TV: Sportsnet, AT&T Sportsnet

Blue Jays vs Astros betting preview

Starting pitchers

Chris Bassitt (1-2, 7.63 ERA): Despite the unsightly ERA, Bassitt has pitched much better since his Blue Jays debut debacle. In the two starts following that ugly outing vs. the Cardinals, Bassitt has posted back-to-back quality starts.

Jose Urquidy (1-0, 2.35 ERA): Urquidy has basically continued to be himself this season, a control pitcher who creates soft contact. He’s looked stronger in each start, culminating in six innings of two-hit shutout ball last time out.

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The Astros are 4-1 in their last five games vs. a right-handed starter. Find more MLB betting trends for Blue Jays vs. Astros

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