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October 17, 2016

There is one pick tonight.

Take Toronto Blue Jays (-165) on the ML against Cleveland Indians risking 4.95% to win 3%.
(Stroman and Bauer must start for wager to have action)

Game 3 of the ALCS sees a switch in venues from Progressive Field in Cleveland to Rogers Center in Toronto, north of the border. The retractable roof which comes handy in wet weather is one of the many changes as these clubs battle in Canada over the next two games. The Jays are essentially in a must-win situation, having lost the opening two games of the series. And yet this isn't a team that is about to panic. They were in the same unenviable position (0-2 hole) last year before rallying to take the next 3 games against the Texas Rangers in the ALDS! This Blue Jays team is made up of experienced veterans that have the utmost confidence in themselves and aren't ready to quit just yet.

The Toronto bats have been largely silent over the first two contest but might just have a breakout game against Trevor Bauer tonight. They've had some success against him in the past and he's unlikely to be at his best tonight anyway. That's because Bauer recently injured his finger, requiring 10 stitches! He's not pitched in 11 days (since Oct 6th) and was pushed back in assignment from Game 2 to Game 3, to give him more time to heal. Bauer is a fierce competitor and will battle like this is a non-issue but clearly this isn't ideal either before a post-season appearance and if the cut opens, it may spell a short night for him. It's worth noting that the 25-year old pitcher doesn't exactly have a stellar playoffs CV anyway as he's fairly inexperienced at this level and when he has appeared in such games, he's been largely ineffective. He started the opener of the ALCS matchup against the Red Sox and left after less than 5 innings due to giving up 6 hits and 3 runs! He's now allowed at least 3 runs in seven consecutive starts and it'd surprise us if he did better tonight.

John Gibbons gives the ball to opening day starter, Marcus Stroman, for the hosts. Stroman's seasonal numbers may not be as impressive as they were last year but his personality makes him the right candidate for the pressure of a pivotal Game 3 such as this. Stroman loves the spotlight and thrives under it, unlike some pitchers who prefer to keep a lower profile. It seems like, the bigger the stage, the better he performs. We don't expect him to be at this best tonight either given the lenghty layoff since his last start but we do believe he can out-duel and outlast Trevor Bauer. Unlike Bauer, he hasn't had an injury to deal with and he's actually baffled Cleveland hitters in previous starts against them. The Indians, collectively, have only 17 hits against him 80 previous at-bats. That equates to a lowly .212 batting average and what makes that more impressive is the fact that all those hits, with the exception of one, were singles! The Tribe have had a total of just one extra-base hit against him therefore in 80 previous at-bats! None of them have quite figured him out yet and by the time they do, the Blue Jays are likely to have the lead in this one.

Close to 50,000 passionate fans and the entire country of Canada will be cheering on the Blue Jays tonight! The raucous crowd gives the hosts a definite home field advantage, something that shouldn't be ignored. The Indians scored 1.5 runs less on average on the road than at Progressive Field this season and were not quite the same team away from home. Now they are facing a desperate and motivated team in a hostile environment and we believe it may just be too much for them. If the Toronto bullpen doesn't throw away the lead late in the game, we foresee them making this series interesting by securing a 'W' and making it a 2-1 series. Originally, there wasn't much value on the Jays at the opening odds, but now that the odds have significantly reduced and are at reasonable levels, we'll back the hosts as they are the more likely club to win this game.

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