Fresh off dropping three of four to the New York Yankees this week, the Toronto Blue Jays steel themselves for another crucial divisional showdown as they welcome the Baltimore Orioles to town this weekend. First pitch for the opener from Rogers Centre is set for 7:07 p.m. ET. Righty Kyle Gibson (4-3, 4.67 ERA) will look to get back on track for Baltimore while the Jays hand the ball to Yusei Kikuchi (5-0, 3.89).
The Blue Jays check in as -145 favorites on the moneyline at DraftKings Sportsbook, while the O’s are +125 underdogs. The run total is set at 9.
Orioles-Blue Jays picks: Friday, May 19
Out: RP Mychal Givens (knee), RP Dillon Tate (elbow), INF Ramon Urias (hamstring)
Day to day: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (knee)
Out: RP Adam Cimber (shoulder), SP Mitch White (elbow), RP Zach Pop (hamstring)
Kyle Gibson vs. Yusei Kikuchi
After a solid start to his season, Gibson’s faced some rocky results recently, with 12 runs on 23 hits allowed in 17.2 innings over his last three starts (including four earned in five frames against the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates last weekend). The righty’s slider remains as effective as ever (.178 batting average against, 43.6% whiff rate) but every other offering, particularly his fastballs, has given up lots of loud contact. Gibson faced the Blue Jays once last year, getting lit up to the tune of seven runs and 12 hits in five innings of work.
Kikuchi has been surprisingly solid this season, but he’s coming off arguably his worst start of the year, coughing up five runs (four earned) on nine hits including three homers against the Atlanta Braves. The lefty is giving up lots of loud contact (fourth percentile in average exit velocity) and his expected ERA is more than a run higher than his actual mark, but he’s gotten away with it so far — largely thanks to a 90.9% strand rate that’s way above league average.
This feels like an easy over to me. Gibson shouldn’t have much to offer a Jays team motivated to come out swinging following this week’s performance against the Yankees, while the O’s are a top-five offense in all of baseball against lefties and should provide some long overdue regression for Kikuchi.
Pick: Over 9
I think this is more of a pick ‘em than the odds would suggest, with Toronto slumping and Baltimore playing some confident baseball. Gibson could certainly make this look foolish, but I’d rather take the plus odds and hope that the O’s elite bullpen can navigate the later innings.