GDB 5.0: With Astros reeling off season-opening sweep, Toronto Blue Jays look to pounce

Photo credit:Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
17 days ago
The Houston Astros have not been good at home as of late.
They’ve gone 1-12 in their last 13 at Minute Maid Park, and are coming off a season-opening series at home in which they got swept in four games by the New York Yankees. Needless to say, they’re going to be hungry with the Toronto Blue Jays coming to town.
The good news for the visitors, however, is they’re coming off a big series against the Tampa Bay Rays at the Trop. Last season the Jays struggled in intradivision play, going 21-31 against AL East opponents, so to start the year off with a split against the Rays is a strong way to start the season outscoring them 20-17.
What also helps the Jays is that Houston is sending Ronel Blanco to the mound. He got lit up last season with a 4.50 ERA and 5.99 FIP, and even though he threw 15 and two-thirds Spring Training innings this year in which he didn’t allow a run, it was largely against AA and AAA talent. Facing an MLB squad is a much different task, and one the 30-year-old has struggled with over two seasons.
The Jays, meanwhile, will send swingman Bowden Francis to the mound coming off an excellent 2023 season, and a strong Spring Training of his own. He’s going to play an important role this season sticking in the rotation, or being an important arm out of the bullpen.
Games at Minute Maid have been tough for the Jays in recent years, as over the last two seasons they’re 3-3 there with a -11 run differential. A strong three-game set this week could help change that tide.

First pitch: 8:10 p.m. EST. TV & Radio: Sportsnet.
Weather: N/A.
Odds via Betano:
Moneyline: TOR +125; HOU -139.
Spread: TOR +1.5 -167; HOU -1.5 +137.
Over/Under: o9.5 +105; u9.5 -128.
*Odds available at the time of writing. Odds subject to change.

Starting pitchers (2023 statistics):

Bowden FrancisTOR01036.11.733.69413.860.838.671.98
Ronel BlancoHOU72152.04.505.131065.991.489.004.85


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Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@thenationnetwork.com.


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