Both the Toronto Blue Jays and Cleveland Indians were underdogs in their ALDS series against the Texas Rangers and Boston Red Sox, respectively. So naturally the Blue Jays and Indians both swept. On Friday in Cleveland they face off for the first time ever in the postseason in Game 1 of the AL Championship Series. While Toronto is favored on MLB betting lines for the series, the Tribe are for this game behind ace Corey Kluber.
Here’s a Closer Look at the Toronto vs Cleveland ALCS Game 1 Free Pick, Lines & TV Info
When: Friday, Oct. 14, 8 PM ET
Where: Progressive Field, Cleveland
Probable pitchers (away/home): Marco Estrada/Corey Kluber
Opening MLB Lines: Indians -138, Blue Jays +128 (8)
Why Bet on Toronto?
The Jays won in a walk-off in the wild-card game over Baltimore then swept the Rangers — the first postseason series sweep in Blue Jays history — in a Game 3 walk-off in the first postseason series ever to end with the winning run scoring on an error. Toronto got 22 runs in sweeping the Rangers, the fourth most by any team in a sweep in a division series. They got eight home runs from seven different players, tying a division series record.
Blue Jays second baseman Devon Travis expects to be in the lineup for Game 1 of the series. Travis missed the final two games of the AL Division Series with a bone bruise in his right knee, but has been working out with the team. Travis led the Blue Jays with a .300 average, while taking over as the primary leadoff hitter down the stretch. Darwin Barney started in place of Travis the past two games, with catcher Russell Martin acting as the Blue Jays’ lone emergency middle infielder, and outfielder Ezequiel Carrera moving up into the leadoff spot.
Toronto goes with All-Star right-hander Marco Estrada here. He carried a shutout into the ninth inning in Game 1 of the AL Division Series and in four postseason starts, the nine-year veteran has a 1.95 ERA. He’s 3-1 with a 2.68 ERA in eight career postseason games, which includes four relief appearances with the Brewers.
When Toronto temporarily went with a six-man rotation earlier this year, Estrada appeared to be the one who was most negatively affected. On normal rest, Estrada had a 2.52 ERA, but that number jumped to 3.95 on five days’ rest and 5.14 on six or more. He will be on seven days rest here. The 33-year-old Estrada faced the Indians just once this season and allowed three runs on five hits over five innings on July 2.
“You look back the last couple of years at how good Marco has been in big games for us,” Manager Gibbons said. “He’s one guy, too, that probably needs more than anybody to keep on as close to normal [rest] as possible, not too much time off.”
Why Bet on Cleveland?
The Indians swept the Red Sox, holding the game’s best offense to seven runs, after no team had held Boston to just seven runs in a three-game series this season. Cleveland didn’t sweep the Red Sox simply because its starters were dominant, though the trio’s 2.70 ERA stands as the second-lowest thus far in the Division Series, and their 9.2 strikeouts per nine are third. Just as important was the Indians’ offense jumping on Boston’s starters for 12 runs in 11 2/3 innings.
Cleveland took the season series against the Blue Jays, four games to three, but was outscored 38 to 24, with a 17-1 drubbing in a July 3 game the primary reason for that imbalance; notably, the pitchers who allowed the last 12 of those runs aren’t on the Indians’ postseason roster.
Kluber won the AL Cy Young in 2014 and could win it again this year but most likely will finish second. Kluber’s final start of the regular season was skipped due to a mild quad strain but he was brilliant against the Red Sox in the ALDS in throwing seven shutout innings in Game 2. It was Cleveland’s first postseason shutout since Game 1 of the 2001 ALDS against Seattle. Kluber joined Gene Bearden (1948 World Series Game 3) as the only Cleveland pitchers to throw at least seven shutout innings in their postseason debut.
There were some concerns about Kluber’s strained quad in his first career postseason start, and questions about whether it would affect him into October. Kluber’s fastball velocity was down from 95.5 mph at the end of the regular season to 93.4 in that postseason start. He overcame the difference with command, stifling the Red Sox’s league-best offense.
Kluber was 18-9 with a 3.14 ERA during the season. He was 0-1 with a 6.30 ERA in two starts against Toronto.
My Free Prediction
I think Toronto wins this series in seven, but as long as Kluber is healthy take the Tribe on MLB odds in the opener and under the total.