The Toronto Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners play their Wild Card Series this weekend, starting with Game 1 on Friday. Oddsmakers at Caesars Sportsbook have a series price of Blue Jays -160/Mariners +140. That means a $100 bet on Seattle to win the best-of-three series would pay $140, while a winning $160 bet on Toronto would result in a $100 profit.
The best series price we’re seeing on the underdog Mariners as of Thursday is +148 at FanDuel. Always shop around various sportsbooks to find the best odds for your wagers.
The new playoff format calls for a best-of-three wild card series format, with all three games (if necessary) played in the home of the higher seed. The Blue Jays are the No. 4 seed in the AL. The Mariners have not won a playoff game since Oct. 20, 2001, against the Yankees in the ALCS.
The best World Series odds on the Blue Jays is +1800 from Caesars. Toronto has not won the Series since 1993. Both DraftKings and FanDuel have odds for the Mariners to win the World Series at +3000. Seattle has never played in the Fall Classic.
Mariners vs Blue Jays Game 1 Odds
As of Thursday, FanDuel has the Game 1 betting line at -152 for Toronto at home, making the Blue Jays the second-biggest favorite next to the Mets (-162 against the Padres) in wild-card games to be played Friday. Here are current odds on legal US sports betting apps.
Mariners vs. Blue Jays Game 1 Pitching Matchup
Luis Castillo (4-2, 3.17 ERA) vs. Alek Manoah (16-7, 2.24 ERA)
For the first time since 2001, the Mariners will be on TVs all over the country in a postseason game. Settle has sort of become the Cinderella of this postseason tournament. The excitement of the franchise’s first playoff appearance in more than two decades is carrying the city of Seattle to a dizzying height of euphoria that caffeine and grunge music never could.
The M’s are placing their hopes on the right shoulder of Luis Castillo, who came over to the team at the trade deadline from Cincinnati. That decision may prove to be prescient. In a start against Toronto in May when he was in a Reds uniform, Castillo spun six innings, allowing two earned runs on five K’s and zero walks.
Castillo has emerged as the most effective starter for Scott Servais. The righthander produced seven quality starts in 11 starts for his new team. He uses a four-seamer and sinking fastball that top out in the mid-90s, but it’s the 10-mph gap between those pitches and his changeup that cause opposing hitters to scratch their chins in confusion. Rarely does Castillo deliver the ball in the same manner either, which means his pitches can come out of any arm slot, which befuddles batters.
Alek Manoah is still not getting the respect he deserves. The kid is still just 24, and he just completed his first full season on an MLB roster. He won’t win the Cy Young, because Justin Verlander exists, but Manoah will get lots of votes. He went for a 2.24 ERA in 31 starts, 25 of which were quality starts. The strong righthander from Florida posted the second-lowest ERA in a qualified season in Blue Jays history. He’s going to be scaring the hell out of AL batters for years to come.
Manoah has only faced the Mariners once, a brilliant outing in July in Seattle, when he pitched 7 1/3 innings, allowing two earned runs and only three hits while fanning seven. In that game, “The Axeman” Carlos Santana hit a homer off the young hurler.
In his last eight starts, Manoah has a 1.00 ERA, 2.84 FIP, and has held batters to a 165/242/245 slash line. As much as any pitcher in this postseason, Manoah has the chance to burst onto the national scene and establish himself as a superstar.
Mariners vs. Blue Jays Series Analysis
The Mariners and Blue Jays hit 397 home runs between them (Toronto with a 200-197 edge). The offensive game is simple: swing hard and lift the ball. But as we’ve seen in Octobers past, the best-laid plans of M’s and Jays can be turned upside down in playoff baseball. One-run strategies and push-em-up hitting is paramount in the postseason.
Which of these teams can best adopt a small-ball philosophy? Which of these teams is most likely to see a lineup-wide slump with little to no power?
The Jays is our answer. Why? Toronto has a 14-point advantage in OBP, and gets far more singles than Seattle. The Jays can make due with what the defense and opposing pitching staff give them. Seattle will need to win two games on the road with an inferior bullpen.
The Blue Jays got 1.9 Wins Above Replacement from their bullpen, led by Jordan Romano, Adam Cimber, David Phelps, and the southpaw Tim Mayza. That was good for third in the AL. While Seattle posted a -0.2 WAR from relief pitching. Interestingly, both teams saw about the same percentage of inherited runners score after going to the pen.
We like Vlad Guerrero Jr., Teoscar Hernandez, Bo Bichette, and George Springer to trump the Mariners’ efforts. That quartet gives Toronto an offensive edge. Springer seems to have been assembled in a factory with the sole purpose of producing clutch postseason hits. He has 19 homers and a career .546 SLG in postseason play.
Mariners vs. Blue Jays Series Game 1 Prediction
Gaming Today likes the Mariners to snatch Game 1 in Ontario. The M’s are riding high and have the look of a tough matchup for the Jays. Toronto has a superior offense and stronger starting pitching, but in a three-game series, it can come down to a bounce of the baseball here and a bullpen mishap there. We like this series to go three games, with Toronto getting all they can handle from Julio Rodriguez & Co.
Best Bet: Mariners +1.5 (-180 via DraftKings Sportsbook). Lay down $180 and win $100 with 1.5 runs in your pocket on the Seattle side.