The Toronto Blue Jays (65-51) look to make it two series wins in a row as they face off against the Cleveland Guardians (55-60) one more time on Thursday afternoon. First pitch of the finale of this four-game set from Progressive Field is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. ET. It’ll be a matchup of two once-imposing righties looking to get back on track, as Toronto’s Alek Manoah (3-8, 5.72 ERA) squares off against Cleveland’s Noah Syndergaard (1-4, 7.16).
The Jays have won five of their last six, but breathing room is hard to come by in the competitive AL Wild Card race. Toronto holds the third and final spot by just two games over the streaking Seattle Mariners, and a tough matchup with the Cubs awaits this weekend. The Guardians, meanwhile, are officially fading after turning themselves into sellers at the trade deadline. Cleveland has lost nine of its last 12 games, now 4.5 games back of the Twins in the AL Central and with an offense that remains among the league’s worst. They’ll kick off a road trip in Tampa against the Rays this weekend.
Toronto enters as -135 favorites on the moneyline at DraftKings Sportsbook, with the Guardians at +114. The run total is set at 9.5.
Blue Jays-Guardians picks: Thursday, August 10
Day to day: SP Hyun-Jin Ryu (knee), RP Chad Green (concussion protocol)
Out: OF Kevin Kiermaier (elbow), SS Bo Bichette (knee), RP Jordan Romano (back), RP Trevor Richards (neck)
Out: C/1B David Fry (hamstring), SP Cal Quantrill (shoulder), 1B Josh Naylor (oblique), INF Tyler Freeman (shoulder)
Alek Manoah vs. Noah Syndergaard
The results have been slightly better for Manoah since coming back from his stint down in the Minors. Granted, that bar is very low, but still: The former ace has pitched to a more respectable 4.26 ERA over his last five starts, with three or fewer earned runs allowed in four of them. Under the hood, though, he’s still looking like a far cry from the guy who dominated in 2022: His command struggles persist (he’s walked 14 batters across his last four outings) and both his four-seamer and sinker are still getting hit hard and catching too much of the plate.
Syndergaard was hoping that a move to Cleveland prior to the trade deadline would help him regain his prior form, but his last start looked like the same old Thor we saw with the Dodgers earlier this year. The righty gave up five runs on nine hits including a whopping four homers over six innings against the Chicago White Sox, as his dinger problems continue (he’s in the fifth percentile of all starters in expected slugging percentage).
This is a fascinating dilemma: Do you look at two sketchy starters and back the over, or do you look at two struggling offenses — the prior three games in this series have featured six runs combined, including consecutive 1-0 finals on Tuesday and Wednesday — and smash the under? I’m going with the latter here: 9.5 is simply too high a number for a game featuring a Cleveland team that hasn’t scored more than four runs since July. Manoah isn’t his old self, but he should do enough to navigate five or six innings; as long as Syndergaard doesn’t totally implode, we should stay below this total.
Pick: Under 9.5
Syndergaard has been even shakier than Manoah of late, and between trades and injuries this Guardians lineup really might be the weakest in the entire sport right now. The Blue Jays have been maddeningly inconsistent at the plate, but I think they do enough on Thursday afternoon to get a win.
Pick: Blue Jays