MLB Betting Preview: Blue Jays Vs. Rays (March 29) Odds

The Toronto Blue Jays got key offensive contributions from players they need to bounce back in a big way and another strong pitching performance from one of their 2023 stalwarts in an 8-2 Opening Day win over the Tampa Bay Rays Thursday. Now they go for a 2-0 start as slight underdogs Friday night at 6:50 ET at Tropicana Field behind right-hander Chris Bassitt.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. launched a 450-foot home run and George Springer and Cavan Biggio also went deep Thursday. The Jays hope it augurs well for each of those three players, who had sub-par seasons in 2023. José Berríos pitched six strong innings, striking out six.

Bet on Blue Jays vs. Rays

TOR +100
TB -120

The Rays got strong pitching from Zach Eflin, but the Blue Jays finally got to Eflin and the Tampa bullpen in the sixth inning to win the division rivalry.

Blue Jays vs. Rays odds

Blue Jays Moneyline Odds+100
Rays Moneyline Odds-120
Runline oddsRays -1.5 (+165), Blue Jays +1.5 (-200)
Over/Under8 runs (over -105, under -115)
Time/DateMarch 29, 6:50 p.m. ET
TVBroadcast: Sportsnet

All odds courtesy of

Betting Toronto Blue Jays (1-0 SU, 1-0 ATS, 1-0 o/u)

For all of Toronto’s dominant pitching last season, the lack of offence largely canceled it out, a problem that resurfaced in their lone playoff series. That prompted the team to put an emphasis on driving the baseball this spring, with manager John Schneider telling reporters, “Getting three or four hits in an inning consistently is hard to do at this level, so it’s about the guys at the top and we want them to do damage.”

Guerrero’s blast was his longest home run since May 3 of last season. Biggio, who has hit .224, .202 and .235 in his last three seasons, walked twice in addition to his solo home run. Springer, who had the worst OPS of his strong career last season, got their scoring started with a solo home run in the fourth.

If the Blue Jays rise to the top in this division, of course, it will likely take a repeat of what their rotation did last season and with ace Kevin Gausman dealing with some shoulder fatigue in spring training, Berríos’s dominance was equally important on Thursday.

Toronto hasn’t seen a ton of Civale, but Bo Bichette has three hits in six at-bats, including an RBI.

Betting Tampa Bay Rays (0-1 SU, 0-1 ATS, 1-0 o/u)

Tampa Bay has weathered more than its share of injuries to its pitching staff, with a spring pectoral injury to young starter Taj Bradley the latest blow to a group that last season lost Shane McClanahan, Jeffrey Springs and Drew Rasmussen to injury and traded away ace (when healthy) Tyler Glasnow in the off-season. That makes this a somewhat important series for guys like Eflin and Friday starter Aaron Civale as they try to prove this unit has the depth to withstand the wave of departures.

In a rugged AL East, the Rays also have to hope some of their young hitters can step up and give them a lineup long enough to handle the Jays, New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles, who have plenty of offensive firepower themselves. The loss of Wander Franco, who is dealing with serious legal issues in his native Dominican Republic, continues to loom over this team. Aside from leadoff hitter Yandy Diaz’s monster day – 3-for-4 with a home run – the Rays couldn’t come up with much action against Berríos and a strong Jays bullpen on Thursday.

Few of the Rays’ hitters have had much success (or experience) facing Bassitt, but Randy Arozarena is batting .375 with a home run in eight career at-bats.

Bo Bichette over 1.5 total bases


Probable pitchers

Tampa Bay: RHP Aaron Civale (last season: 7-5, 3.46 ERA, 8.53 K/9, 1.16 WHIP)

One of the more puzzling trades of 2023 was the deal that sent Civale from Cleveland to Tampa Bay, but now the Rays are glad they have such a reliable mid-rotation starter. It says something about their diminished rotation, with Tyler Glasnow now the Dodgers’ Opening-Day starter and injuries cropping up, that they’re going with him for the second game of the season. Civale was far better in a Guardians uniform than a Rays uniform last year, going 2-3 with a 5.36 ERA for Tampa in 10 starts. For a guy who doesn’t throw particularly hard, Civale gets a lot out of his 92-mph fastball. It ranked in the 96th percentile for run value. His curveball-slider combo also gets high marks, with his breaking balls ranking in the 73th percentile. Hitters make tons of contact off Civale, but they rarely find barrels. They tend to hit a lot of fly balls given a groundball rate that ranks only in the 35th percentile. Civale has always had a high ceiling thanks to those formidable tools and Tampa desperately needs him to start living up to it this season with their rotation in a bit of disarray.

Toronto: RHP Chris Bassitt (last season: 16-8, 3.60 ERA, 8.37 K/9, 1.18 WHIP)

With his final start of 2023, Bassitt reached a threshold only an elite few in MLB get to these days: 200 innings, on the nose. While not one of the game’s most electric strikeout pitchers, Bassitt is among the most-reliable mid-rotation starters in the game and, at age 35, there’s no reason to expect a major step back in 2024. Bassitt had a perfectly solid spring, going 1-2 with a 4.30 ERA and striking out 22 batters in 23 innings. Though his fastball and cutter are relatively tame by today’s standards, with his fastball averaging 92 mph last season, Bassitt does some of his best work inducing bad contact with his hard stuff. He threw his fastball and cutter 63% of the time last year and his fastball was in the 88th percentile in terms of run value. He gives up plenty of contact, but little of it was hard. His hard-hit rate ranked in the 76th percentile. He also doesn’t hurt himself with walks and commands the strike zones. Hitters know they have to be ready to hit and they usually end up frustrated after making bad contact vs. Bassitt.


The weather will continue to be pleasant, presumably, inside the dome at Tropicana Field.

  • Thursday was also a good first step for the Blue Jays in correcting a big problem in 2023: playing the AL East. Toronto was 6-7 vs. the Rays and 15-25 vs. the other division opponents last season, going 21-31 on the moneyline in those games.
  • Thursday’s game comfortably exceeded the run total of 7.5, bucking another ’23 trend that saw Toronto go 70-82-9 o/u.
  • Tampa Bay tended to exceed the total in ’23, going 89-69-4 o/u. Only the Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers hit a higher rate of overs.
  • Diaz’s hot hitting carried over from spring training into the regular season. He mashed four home runs and had a 1.008 OPS in the spring.
  • On the other hand, Biggio went homerless in spring training and had just a .379 slugging percentage before breaking out Thursday.
  • In addition to Bichette’s small sample-size success vs. Civale, he also seemed to be swinging the bat well in the spring, going 20-for-58 (.345) with a home run and five doubles.

MLB bets to consider

  • While there is a grand tradition of overreacting to Opening Day, the Blue Jays’ hitting does figure to improve this season given most of the lineup’s career track record and Thursday might have just been a small taste of that. Combining that with Tampa’s depleted pitching staff at the moment, it seems Toronto could put up some runs here. The Rays have a better lineup than many people realize as well. Over eight runs seems like a solid play here.
  • As mentioned, we like Bichette’s chances of doing a little damage here. It’s hard to say exactly what that will look like, so the safe play is to take over 1.5 total bases at +115.