The Texas Rangers (80-64) have taken each of the first two games of their crucial series against the Toronto Blue Jays (80-65), making the AL Wild Card race somehow even more jumbled than it already was. Toronto will look to snap their losing skid in game three of four on Wednesday night, with first pitch from Rogers Centre set for 7:07 p.m. ET. It’ll be a battle of lefties on the mound, with Jordan Montgomery (8-11, 3.62 ERA) going for Texas and Yusei Kikuchi (9-5, 3.57) getting the ball for the Jays.
The Rangers have turned things around with this recent four-game winning streak, now just a game back (and tied in the loss column) of the Houston Astros for the AL West lead and just percentage points up on Seattle and Toronto for the second Wild Card spot.
The Blue Jays enter as -130 favorites on the moneyline at DraftKings Sportsbook, with Texas at +110. The run total is set at 8.
Rangers-Blue Jays picks: Wednesday, September 13
Out: INF Josh Jung (thumb), OF Adolis Garcia (knee)
Day to day: 1B/DH Brandon Belt (illness)
Out: RP Erik Swanson (back), 3B Matt Chapman (finger), C Danny Jensen (finger)
Jordan Montgomery vs. Yusei Kikuchi
Montgomery really hasn’t had it lately, with 14 earned runs and 19 hits allowed over 14.2 innings across his last three starts. Prior to that, the lefty had gotten off to a great start with his new team, posting a 2.30 ERA over five outings in the month of August. When he’s on, Montgomery is a premier innings eater — he’s gone at least six frames in 17 of his 28 starts this season — but he hasn’t had command of his signature changeup of late, and that could mean trouble against a Jays lineup that’s had some success against him dating back to his time with the Yankees (4.00 ERA in 11 appearances).
Kikuchi is in the midst of a career year for Toronto, on pace to set new personal marks for ERA, innings pitched and WHIP. He struggled in his first start of September, although that one gets a Coors Field-sized asterisk. He most recently allowed just three hits over five innings while striking out eight back home against the Royals.
I’m a bit puzzled as to why this number is as low as it is. Yes, Kikuchi has pitched well of late (and all year, really) but he’s also no stranger to giving up crooked numbers if his command goes sideways. More to the point, Montgomery is struggling mightily right now and doesn’t match up well with a Jays lineup slashing a robust .309/.382/.490 as a team against southpaws over the last three weeks. The first two totals of this series were 14 and nine, and I’m banking on the over again here.
Pick: Over 8
I don’t have a ton of faith in Montgomery in this spot, especially based on what he’s shown of late. Kikuchi is the far more trustworthy option on the mound, and with Toronto needing a win to keep pace in the playoff chase, I think they get it done here.
Pick: Blue Jays -130