Blue Jays vs. Yankees Opening Day

Blue Jays vs. Yankees Opening Day | 2021 MLB Expert Analysis

Written by on March 31, 2021

The favorite on the MLB odds to win the 2021 American League Cy Young Award is New York Yankees right-hander Gerrit Cole, and he takes the mound in the first game of the new season on Thursday against the Toronto Blue Jays.

How to Bet Blue Jays at Yankees MLB Odds & TV Info
  • When: Thursday, 1:05 PM ET
  • Where: Yankee Stadium
  • Probable pitchers (away/home): Hyun-Jin Ryu/Gerrit Cole
  • TV: ESPN
  • Stream/gameday audio: ESPN app
  • Opening MLB Lines: TBA (Yankees will be favored)
Why Bet on Toronto? | 2021 MLB Expert Analysis

Will the Blue Jays have big offseason acquisition George Springer? The former Houston Astros outfielder and World Series MVP got a six-year, $150 million contract but is currently dealing with an oblique injury. He has progressed to hitting off a tee but is probably questionable at best to play Thursday and may end up on the injured list.

The Jays are planning on plugging him into center field and to add proven offensive support to augment a young group built around Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., and Teoscar Hernandez.

Another big acquisition was former Padres All-Star closer Kirby Yates, but he’s already done for the year following Tommy John surgery. He had the same procedure in 2006. This was part of the risk that the Blue Jays took when they signed Yates to a one-year deal worth $5.5 million plus incentives. The right-hander was one of baseball’s best pitchers in 2019 with the Padres, posting a 1.19 ERA with 41 saves, but he had his 2020 season cut short by a procedure to remove bone spurs from his right elbow.

Manager Charlie Montoyo could use a closer-by-committee now, although Canadian right-hander Jordan Romano has dominant back-end potential and could get the first crack. Montoyo told reporters that he’s optimistic that Rafael Dolis (back spasms) will be ready for Opening Day and Dolis could also close games. The right-hander was excellent in 2020 with a 1.50 ERA in the truncated season.

It’s Hyun-Jin Ryu on the mound, and he finished third in the AL Cy Young voting last season, his first with Toronto after signing as a free agent from the Dodgers. The 34-year-old southpaw dazzled in 2020 in compiling a 2.69 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 72/17 K/BB ratio across 67 innings.

This will be Ryu’s third straight Opening Day start. Montoyo said Ryu, who also started for the Los Angeles Dodgers on opening day in 2019, looks better than he did at this time last year. The uncertainty of the 2020 season meant the 34-year-old Ryu had to ramp up in a rush last year. This spring, with proper preparation, he says he feels “way better,” particularly when it comes to releasing the ball.

Why Bet on New York? | 2021 MLB Expert Analysis

The Yankees’ biggest offseason move was re-signing second baseman and reigning MLB batting champion DJ LeMahieu on a six-year, $90 million deal. The 32-year-old has hit .336/.386/.536 in 195 games with the Yankees over the past two seasons. He led the American League in batting average (.364), on-base percentage (.421) and OPS (1.011) in 2020, and he finished third in the AL MVP Award voting after a fourth-place finish in 2019 in his first season with New York.

The Bombers are favored to win the AL East with a strong starting rotation of Gerrit Cole, Corey Kluber, Jameson Taillon and then some combination of Jordan Montgomery, Deivi Garcia and Domingo German, who is returning to the team after serving a domestic violence suspension in 2020. Luis Severino is expected to be back midseason after last winter’s Tommy John surgery.

The Yankees recently selected the contract of 1B Jay Bruce from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, meaning that Bruce will make the Opening Day roster and will serve as the team’s starting first baseman with Luke Voit expected to be sidelined until at least May due to a partially torn meniscus in his left knee. Voit surprisingly led the majors in homers last season with 22 so it’s a big loss. He recently had surgery on that knee.

It’s Cole, the highest-paid pitcher in MLB history, on the mound here. Last season, Cole went 7-3 with two complete games and a 2.84 ERA (73.0IP, 53H, 27R/23ER, 17BB, 94K, 14HR) in 12 starts during the regular season. The three-time All-Star (2018-19 with Houston, 2015 with Pittsburgh) has finished in the top-five of Cy Young Award voting four times (fourth in 2020, second in 2019, fifth in 2018, fourth in 2015).

Cole finished the 2020 regular season strong by going 3-1 with a 1.00 ERA (27.0IP, 3ER) with 34K in four September starts. He posted the second-lowest ERA in the Majors during the month of September (min. 25.0IP) and the lowest ERA by Yankees pitcher in a calendar month (min. 25.0IP) since Hiroki Kuroda’s 0.55 ERA (33.0IP, 2ER) in July 2013. He was only the ninth Yankee in franchise history to record a 1.00 ERA or lower and at least 30K in a single calendar month.

Expert Prediction
  • Yankees 4, Blue Jays 3

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