Two postseason hopefuls kick off their second halves with a big interleague showdown, as the Arizona Diamondbacks head north for a weekend series with the Toronto Blue Jays. First pitch of Friday’s opener is set for 7:07 p.m. ET at Rogers Centre. Righty Ryne Nelson (5-5, 5.19 ERA) will get the ball for the visitors, while Jose Berrios (8-6, 3.50) gets the start for Toronto.
The Jays enter as -175 favorites on the moneyline at DraftKings Sportsbook, with the D-backs at +150. The run total is set at 9.5.
Diamondbacks-Blue Jays picks: Friday, July 14
Out: RP Drey Jameson (elbow), SP Merrill Kelly (leg), RP Mark Melancon (shoulder)
Out: RP Adam Cimber (shoulder), SP Hyun-Jin Ryu (elbow), RP Chad Green (elbow)
Ryne Nelson vs. Jose Berrios
Nelson ended his first half on a low note, getting rocked by the New York Mets to the tune of seven runs on nine hits in just three innings of work. The righty had been on a roll prior to that, though, with five runs allowed on 12 hits in 19.1 frames across his three previous starts. Nelson utilizes a fastball-heavy approach (he throws his four-seamer nearly 55% of the time), and when his changeup and slider are working well enough to keep batters, off his heater, he can find success. When they’re not, though, things go south in a hurry.
Berrios is trending in the exact opposite direction: After a few rocky starts at the end of June, the righty spun seven one-hit innings in a win over the Chicago White Sox in his last appearance before the break. The righty has been crucial in helping keep Toronto afloat amid rotation uncertainty this year, shelving his four-seamer in favor of a sinker/slurve approach that’s produced a career-high 47% ground-ball rate — and help him post 10 quality starts in 18 outings.
Yes, Nelson is capable of handing out crooked numbers to opposing lineups, but this total is still a bit too rich for my blood. Toronto’s offense has blown hot and cold all year, and they’ve fallen short of double-digits in 10 of their last 12 games. I expect Berrios to continue to pitch well on Friday night, and while the Home Run Derby may get Vladimir Guerrero Jr. going in the second half, I don’t think the Blue Jays will be able to make up the difference.
Pick: Under 9.5
The Jays just have too big an advantage on the mound in this one, and the D-backs have been struggling at the plate of late (third-lowest team wRC+ since the start of July). Back Toronto to get their stretch run started with a win on Friday.
Pick: Blue Jays