2021 MLB Odds, Picks, Predictions: Blue Jays vs. Yankees Betting Preview (April 1)

2021 MLB Odds, Picks, Predictions: Blue Jays vs. Yankees Betting Preview (April 1) article feature image
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Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images. Pictured: Gerrit Cole.

  • The Yankees are favored over the Blue Jays on MLB's Opening Day with Gerrit Cole on the mound against Hyun-Jin Ryu.
  • Even with two aces on the bump, Kevin Davis's projections put this total at 8.54, a full run clear of the posted line.
  • Get his full Yankees vs. Blue Jays pick and preview for Opening Day below.

Blue Jays at Yankees Odds

Blue Jays Odds +162
Yankees Odds -177
Over/Under 7.5 (-115 / -105)
Time 1:05 p.m. ET
TV ESPN
Odds as of Wednesday morning and via William Hill.

Last year during the shortened season, both the New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays made the expanded playoffs. Both the Yankees and the Blue Jays play in the AL East, but the Yankees are heavily favored to win the division this year.

For Thursday’s opening day game, the Yankees predictably are heavily favored as -177 moneyline favorites (63.9 breakeven odds). There is something in MLB betting known as the “Yankee Tax” where the Yankees are usually priced worse than their chances of winning because of their popularity.

Unsurprisingly, my model finds no edge with either the NYY or TOR moneylines. That is why I am focusing on the run total for Thursday’s game.

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Toronto Blue Jays 

As usual for a team on Opening Day, Toronto is using its best starting pitcher in Hyun-Jin Ryu. Last season, Ryu had a 5-2 record with a 2.69 ERA, and a 3.32 xFIP. Despite his success last season, I expect Ryu to regress this season simply because it’s hard to repeat a performance that strong over the course of a full, 162-game season.

According to his PECOTA projections, Ryu is expected to have a DRA of 3.88, which while impressive does not guarantee that Toronto wins whenever he pitches. While I expect Ryu to go close to six innings against the Yankees, the Blue Jays are not helped by their bullpen, which is project to be average this season. They are also not helped by having to face a dangerous Yankees lineup.

One reason why my model projects Toronto to be competitive this season is because of its lineup. Even though star free agent acquisition George Springer is expected to miss Opening Day, the Blue Jays have a well-rounded lineup that is dangerous. My model projects the Blue Jays to score 8.1% more runs than the average lineup, even without Springer.

That is because eight out of nine players in Toronto’s lineup are above-average offensively. Even if the Yankees can pacify Vladimir Guerrero Jr., they still must deal with Teoscar Hernández, Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio. Win or lose, I expect the Blue Jays to score a decent number of runs against Gerrit Cole and the Yankees.

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New York Yankees

The reason why the Yankees are favored on Opening Day is because of Cole, the ace of their rotation and one of the best pitchers in the league. While there are major questions surrounding the rest of the rotation, Cole is the only reliable starting pitcher on the roster. Last season, he had a 7-3 record with a 2.84 ERA, and a 3.38 xFIP.

Cole is dangerous because of his ability to do something that is becoming more and more rare in baseball: pitching deep into games. Likewise, he’s one of the best strikeout artists in the sport, which can get him out of trouble in tough situations. Cole’s Opening Day presence is why the run total is set so low and why the Yankees are heavily favored.

The other reason why the Yankees will continue to be favored this season even when Cole is not pitching is because of their lineup. My model projects the Yankees to have the second-best lineup in the league this season. For Opening Day, first baseman Luke Voit will be out of the lineup and replaced by veteran Jay Bruce. Even though Bruce might be eligible for an AARP membership, he is only slightly worse than average offensively.

Outside of Bruce, the rest of the Yankees’ lineup is above average or better offensively. According to my model’s projections, the Yankees’ Opening Day lineup produces 13.4% more runs per game than the average MLB lineup.

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Betting Analysis & Pick

Even with a pair of aces on the mound, I’m betting the over in this Opening Day contest. Both the Blue Jays and Yankees have well-rounded lineups with dangerous hitters. Against average or below-average lineups, the run total would typically go under eight runs, but not in this matchup.

There are no easy spots in either team’s lineup to attack. Once Ryu is done with Aaron Judge, he still must deal with the result of the Yankees’ lineup. Additionally, Cole is still likely to have a tough time with the Jays’ plethora of above-average bat.

After simulating the game 10,000 times, I project that the median number of runs scored is 8.54. That is why I am taking the over. I would not play it if the total rises to 8.5.

The Pick: Over 7.5 Runs (-115)

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