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MLB Betting Preview (June 1): Pirates vs. Blue Jays predictions

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Photo credit:© Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Nicholas Martin
1 month ago
It took the first 14-inning game since 2020, but the Blue Jays finally managed their first walk-off victory of the season Friday. Davis Schneider finally ended the game with a two-run shot to right center field to hand the Jays their eighth win in the last 12 games.
A win for Toronto on Saturday would make it five straight, which would be its longest win streak of the season. It is a heavy -165 favourite to do so, as Yusei Kikuchi (2.64 ERA, 61 IP) will take on Mitch Keller (3.59 ERA, 67 and 2/3 IP)
Let’s dive into the game odds for Saturday’s matchup between the Pirates and Blue Jays via bet365:

Pirates vs. Blue Jays odds

Pirates Moneyline Odds
+140
Blue Jays Moneyline Odds
-165
Runline Odds
Pirates +1.5 (-155), Blue Jays -1.5 (+130)
Over/Under
Over 8 runs (-105, Under 8 runs (-115)
Time/Date
June 1, 1:07 p.m. ET
TV
Broadcast: Sportsnet 1, Sportsnet+

Pittsburgh Pirates

With Mitch Keller, Paul Skenes, and Jared Jones all on the roster, the Pirates’ starting rotation should be pretty scary in the coming seasons and even the rest of the 2024 campaign.
Keller does look to be a lesser pitcher than his 3.59 ERA suggests, though. He hasn’t been particularly strong of late. Keller has an xERA of 4.64 and an xFIP of 3.99. He has a Stuff+ rating of 100 and a Pitching+ rating of 99.
Keller’s ERA of 1.47 over his last three outings is stellar, but his underlying results look highly comparable to the rest of the year. In those three matchups, he’s been hard-hit 44% of the time, and his K-rate has reduced to 14%.
On pitches in the strike zone opponents own a line-drive rate of 34% this season, which is the second-highest mark among qualified starters.
While Keller may not pose as tall a task as his ERA suggests, the Jays’ will still be keen to get into the soft arms of a struggling Pirates bullpen as quickly as possible. Pirates relievers have struggled to an ERA of 4.68 over the last month of action.
The Pirates’ offence has hit to a wRC+ of 101 versus left-handed pitching this season, with a 13th-best OPS of .704.

Toronto Blue Jays

For as painful as things have been for much of this season, there are some highly positive storylines to point to for Toronto entering this matchup. A win would be five straight, and it could potentially move the Jays out of last in the AL East.
For over a season the Jays offense has greatly underachieved expectations, but it is starting to catch it’s footing, even if part of the reason has been a soft schedule of late. Toronto also faced off against one of the toughest schedules of opposing starters in the first month of the season, so part of this recent upswing is natural.
Over the last two weeks, the Jays have a wRC+ of 122 and an OPS of .768. They also have a league-leading 0.59 BB/K ratio.
The more important note for most Jays’ fans is probably that they have averaged 5.00 runs scored per game over the last 15 matchups.
Their strong recent run production would probably be slightly more emphasized if the bullpen had not offered more blow-ups of late than it did throughout a dominant 2023 season. Toronto’s relievers own an ERA of 4.77 over the last 30 days, including some high leverage blowups from typically reliable arms.
Kikuchi has allowed an xBA of .260 over his last three starts, with an ugly WHIP of 1.72. His strikeout rate has trended down to 20% in those outings.
Predictions for Pirates vs Blue Jays
The Blue Jays’ process at the plate continues to look quite solid, and most importantly, that has translated to a quality output of actual runs scored recently. They will present a tough test to Keller, whose level is not as high as his 3.59 ERA suggests and looks like a fade candidate moving forward.
Like Keller, Kikuchi also enters this matchup in a less dominant run of play. He is also getting a quietly tough matchup here versus a Pirates side, which has quietly been better than average against left-handed pitching this season.
Both teams used many quality bullpen arms in Friday’s lengthy extra-inning matchup. Each side’s relief pitchers have a bottom-five ERA over the last month of action, too, and each features a number of top arms that have not been at their best of late.
A total of 8 looks a touch low in this matchup, and there is value backing the over at anything better than -115.
Best Bet: Over 8 -105 (Play to -115)

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