Tampa Bay Rays vs. Toronto Bluejays Preview and Pick – Garza vs. Halladay

Tampa Bay Rays (61-44) +140, 7 1/2 at Toronto Blue Jays (54-52), 7 pm Eastern Tuesday
by Zman of Predictem.com

Divisional rivals clash with more at stake than when they usually meet when the Toronto Blue Jays host the Tampa Bay Rays for the middle game of a three-game set Tuesday night at Rogers Centre.

Baseball bookmakers are listing the Blue Jays and starting pitcher Roy Halladay (12-7, 2.82, 1.04 WHIP) as 155 home favorites for Tuesday’s game, with a total of 7 1/2, while the Rays and Matt Garza (8-6, 3.83, 1.25) are getting +140 as road underdogs.

Toronto took the opener of this three-game series Monday night 3-1, their 6th win in their last seven games. So going into Tuesday’s action, Tampa still leads the AL East by a game over second-place Boston Red Sox, while the Jays are in 4th place, 7 1/2 games out.

Toronto also sits 6 1/2 games back of the first-place Boston Red Sox in the AL wild-card race.

Tampa is 17 games over .500 this year, but just 21-28 on the road. They’re also 17-21 as underdogs, and 53-52 vs. the run line.

Toronto is 30-21 at home this season, 35-27 as favorites, and 48-58 vs. the run line.

The Rays have taken seven of 10 games from Jays the so far this season, with the totals going 5-5, as the games have averaged 8.4 total runs per.

Last year, these two teams split 18 games, with the totals going a lop-sided 5-13, despite the games averaged a rather normal 9.0 total runs.

Over his last three starts, including a poor performance vs. Kansas City last Thursday, Garza has allowed 11 ER and 27 baserunners (hits + walks) in 17 2/3 IP. Tampa is 9-10 in Garza’s starts this year, the totals 7-12.

Garza has started twice already this season vs. the Jays, holding them to just one ER and 11 BR in 14 1/3 IP. Tampa split those two games, with the totals going 1-1.

And Garza owns one of the more significant home/road performance differentials in the majors. In 10 starts at Tropicana Field this year, his ERA is 2.10; in nine starts on the road, it’s 6.04.

Over his last three starts, including a solid showing vs. Baltimore last Thursday, Halladay has given up six ER and 22 BR in 22 IP. Toronto is 12-9 in Halladay’s starts this year, the totals 8-11.

Halladay has started twice already this year vs. the Rays, and started two games vs. Tampa last year. Over those four outings, Halladay got bopped around for 20 ER and 44 BR in 24 1/3 IP. The Jays won two of those four games, and three of them went over their totals.

These two pitchers matched up 10 days ago in Tampa, with Garza getting the better of Halladay in a 6-4 Rays win.

Offensively, Tamps ranks 19th in the majors this season in team BA at .257, 13th in team OBP at .335, 20th in team slugging at .407, and is averaging 4.5 runs per game.

Toronto ranks 17th in batting at .260, 11th in OBP at .336, 25th in slugging at .387, and is averaging 4.3 RPG.

Over the last five games, the Tampa bullpen has allowed three ER and 15 BR in 13 IP.

Over its’ last five games, the Toronto pen has given up just two ER and 14 BR in 15 1/3 IP.

The totals are 42-61 in Rays games this year, and 0-6-2 over their last eight games, as Tampa has managed to score just 23 runs over that span.

The totals are 44-57 in Jays games this year, and 1-4-1 over their last six games, as Toronto pitching has allowed just 15 runs over that span.

And the totals are 21-26 in games played at Rogers Centre this season, which are averaging 8.2 total runs.

Zman’s Pick: It’s hard to back Garza on the road. Halladay has been lights out lately as well. We’re laying the wood here with the Jays.