After a big sweep of the rival Boston Red Sox over the weekend, the Toronto Blue Jays (63-50) look to keep it rolling and solidify their hold on the third and final AL Wild Card spot as they head to Cleveland for a series against the slumping Guardians (54-58). Lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu (0-1, 7.20 ERA) will make his second start since returning from Tommy John surgery for Toronto, while Cleveland gives the ball to rookie Gavin Williams (1-3, 3.38).
The Jays enter as -130 favorites on the moneyline at DraftKings Sportsbook, with the Guardians at +110. The run total is set at 8.5.
Blue Jays-Guardians picks: Monday, August 7
Out: RP Trevor Richards (neck), RP Jay Jackson (bereavement), RP Jordan Romano (back), SS Bo Bichette (knee)
Out: SP Cal Quantrill (shoulder), 1B Josh Naylor (oblique), INF Tyler Freeman (shoulder), SP Shane Bieber (elbow), SP Triston McKenzie (elbow)
Hyun-Jin Ryu vs. Gavin Williams
It’s been a long road back for Ryu since undergoing Tommy John surgery early in the 2022 season. After more than 12 months of rehab, the lefty made his return to the mound against the Baltimore Orioles last week, giving up four runs on nine hits in five innings of work while striking out three. Ryu posted a 4.37 ERA in his last full season in 2021, and he was among the most reliable starters in the game from 2018 to 2020 with the Dodgers and then the Blue Jays.
Williams arrived in the Majors as one of the top pitching prospects in baseball, but it’s been a bit of a bumpy ride for the rookie lately. The ERA remains relatively clean, but an ugly 1.34 WHIP belies the command problems the righty has had: Williams has walked four batters in three of his last four starts, averaging fewer than five innings per outing. When he’s at his best, he uses a powerful fastball up and above the zone and a pair of breaking balls as putaway pitches, but he simply isn’t throwing enough strikes right now.
Ryu’s line didn’t look great in his return last week, but the important thing is that he made it through five innings, and he figures to look better the more Major League reps he gets. The Guardians have been among the league’s worst lineups against lefties all year, and now they’ve traded away Josh Bell and are dealing with injuries to Naylor and Freeman. This team has scored more than three runs in a game exactly twice in their last nine games, and I’m not banking on that trend ending on Monday night. That puts a lot of pressure on the Blue Jays for this over to hit, and while they busted out at Fenway Park last weekend, Toronto’s bats have been terribly inconsistent this year.
Pick: Under 8.5
The Jays are streaking as the look to clamp down a playoff spot, while the Guardians more or less sold at the trade deadline and have lost seven of their last 10. This is a really thin Cleveland lineup behind Jose Ramirez, and Williams’ recent command troubles don’t make me confident that he can win a pitcher’s duel.
Pick: Blue Jays