The Toronto Blue Jays and Cleveland Guardians square off on Friday with first pitch set for 7:10 p.m. ET. The game takes place at Progressive Field in Cleveland, OH and will only be available on local TV or through an MLB.tv subscription. Get your popcorn ready for this pitching matchup: The Blue Jays’ Kevin Gausman versus the Guardians’ Shane Bieber.
The Blue Jays (16-11) sit three games back of the Yankees in the American League East. After they snapped the Yanks’ 11-game winning streak on Wednesday, Toronto dropped Thursday’s series opener against the Guardians, 6-5. Surprisingly, the Blue Jays are just 18th in the league in runs scored (102). But their lineup should get a boost very soon as outfielder and two-time Silver Slugger Teoscar Hernandez is expected to return from the injured list this weekend. He has been out of action due to an oblique strain since April 14.
The Guardians (12-13) have been led offensively by Jose Ramirez, but the man who commonly bats behind him, slugger Franmil Reyes, is starting to show signs of life. He has five hits in his past eight at-bats. He went 1-for-30 at the plate before that. The AL Rookie of the Month of April, Steven Kwan, hit his first career homer on Thursday and is batting .328/.423/.484 with 14 runs scored in his first 19 games this season.
Blue Jays vs. Guardians
Pitchers: Kevin Gausman vs. Shane Bieber
First pitch: 7:10 p.m. ET
Blue Jays local broadcast: SportsNet
Guardians local broadcast: Bally Sports Great Lakes
Live stream: MLB.tv (subscription)
Moneyline odds: Blue Jays -145; Guardians +125
Picks & predictions
Moneyline pick: Blue Jays -145
As good as Bieber has been this year — 2.45 ERA, .208 opponents’ batting average — Gausman has been better. He has struck out 41 batters this year without giving up a walk or a home run. His splitter might just be the best pitch in baseball right now. The Blue Jays are 4-1 in his starts, and expect them to rebound tonight in Cleveland.
Player prop pick: Shane Bieber UNDER 6.5 strikeouts (-150)
Thanks in part to a noticeable drop in his fastball velocity, Bieber’s K numbers have also decreased in 2022. His strikeout rate is 25.4 percent; that’s still fine, but he was at 33 and 41 percent in each of the previous two seasons. He hasn’t recorded more than seven strikeouts in a game this year, and it’s tough to see him changing that against this lineup.
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