The all-in Los Angeles Angels (54-49) look to keep up their playoff push as they head north for a huge series against the team currently occupying the third and final AL Wild Card spot: the Toronto Blue Jays (57-46). First pitch of Friday’s opener from Rogers Centre is set for 7:07 p.m. ET. Recent trade acquisition Lucas Giolito (6-6, 3.79 ERA) will make his L.A. debut on the mound, while Toronto counters with ace Kevin Gausman (7-5, 3.18).
Fresh off a sweep of the Detroit Tigers, the Angels have won eight of their last 10 games and now find themselves just three games out of a playoff spot. Shohei Ohtani isn’t going anywhere, Mike Trout will hopefully be back soon and Giolito is here to help L.A.’s stretch run. Things won’t get any easier after this weekend, as the Halos head south to wrap up their road trip with a series against the Atlanta Braves.
Toronto just took two of three from the Los Angeles Dodgers to wrap up their West Coast swing, but it’s still been one step forward, one step back of late for the Jays, who won eight of nine earlier this month but have gone 4-5 since. They’ll start next week with a critical AL East showdown at home against the Baltimore Orioles.
The Blue Jays enter as -190 favorites on the moneyline at DraftKings Sportsbook, with Los Angeles at +165. The run total is set at 8.5.
Angels-Blue Jays picks: Friday, July 28
Out: OF Mike Trout (hamate), INF Brandon Drury (shoulder), 3B Anthony Rendon (shin), OF Jo Adell (oblique), RP Chris Devenski (hamstring)
Out: SP Hyun-Jin Ryu (elbow), RP Chad Green (elbow), RP Adam Cimber (shoulder)
Lucas Giolito vs. Kevin Gausman
One of the best starters available at the trade deadline, the Angels gave up two of their best prospects to acquire Giolito from the Chicago White Sox. After a bumpy start, the righty has been very good over the last two months, with a 3.42 ERA since the start of June — a number that lowers all the way to 2.20 if you remove an eight-run blowup against the Mets. That start aside, he’s allowed two or fewer runs in all but two of his last nine outings. When he’s keeping his fastball elevated and spotting his changeup down, he can be as good as anyone.
Gausman has been as good as anyone for all of 2023, spearheading Toronto’s staff with 14 quality starts out of 20 total outings. He rarely gets hit hard, but when he does, it tends to be because of the home run ball — as was the case last time out, when he gave up four runs on four solo homers over six innings against the Seattle Mariners. His splitter remains among the very best pitches in all of baseball, and when he’s keeping his fastball out of harm’s way, he’s almost unhittable.
The Angels have been hot of late, but this is still a depleted lineup without Trout, Rendon and Drury, and Gausman is about as good as there is right now. I expect him to pitch very well, meaning that Toronto will have to really hit Giolito hard for us to clear this over. That’s certainly possible, but the Jays have been much more inconsistent against righties than lefties this year, and in the righty’s first start with his new team, adrenaline should carry him through.
Pick: Under 8.5
I just don’t see the Angels scoring enough off of Gausman here — there’s is a very righty-heavy lineup without Shohei Ohtani, and Gausman is allowing just a .613 OPS to right-handed batters this year. Giolito is solid, but I expect him to blink first in this pitcher’s duel.
Pick: Blue Jays -190