MLB Betting Preview: Blue Jays Vs. Rays (March 30) Odds

The Tampa Bay Rays squared their season-opening series with the Toronto Blue Jays at a game apiece Friday thanks to a deep Brandon Lowe grand slam off Chris Bassitt and a strong outing from Aaron Civale at Tropicana Field. Oddly, both games were decided by the same score, 8-2, eclipsing the over twice. The teams play the third game in this four-game series on Saturday at 4:10 p.m. ET, with Jays’ lefty Yusei Kikuchi opposing converted reliever Zack Littell.

Bet on Blue Jays vs. Rays

TOR +105
TB -125

Just as on Friday, the Jays are slight underdogs in this one at +105 while Rays backers will have to lay -125.

Blue Jays vs. Rays odds

Blue Jays Moneyline Odds+105
Rays Moneyline Odds-125
Runline oddsRays -1.5 (+170), Blue Jays +1.5 (-140)
Over/Under8.5 runs (over +100, under -120)
Time/DateMarch 30, 4:10 p.m. ET
TVBroadcast: Sportsnet

All odds courtesy of

Betting Toronto Blue Jays (1-1 SU, 1-1 ATS, 2-0 o/u)

One rough night isn’t going to give the Jays an identity crisis. They still are built on one of the top starting rotations in the game and a solid bullpen. They’re still going to field staunchly enough to support that pitching in most games.

Bassitt looked dominant in the early innings Friday, striking out five of the first seven batters he faced, but it all turned when shortstop Bo Bichette botched a potential double-play grounder. The next batter, Lowe, launched the grand slam that sent Bassitt – and the Jays’ – night spiralling downward.

The nervous part for the Jays this season is hoping their hitting rebounds in a serious way from a disappointing 2023. George Springer homering for the second straight game was a nice sign of good things to come. Springer, a four-time All-Star, had the lowest OPS (.732) of his career last season and hit the fewest home runs in a full season since 2015. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., himself coming off a down year, had two more hits and has a 1.194 OPS on the young season.

Betting Tampa Bay Rays (1-1 SU, 1-1 ATS, 2-0 o/u)

The Rays are hoping for big things from Lowe after his previous two seasons were disrupted by injuries. His 444-foot blast left his bat at 111 mph, per Statcast, making it the third-longest home run of the left-handed slugger’s career. The Rays have good lineup depth in general. Yandy Díaz, too, has been a major problem for the Jays in this series with five hits in the first two games.

More important than that from the Rays’ perspective, however, was seeing Civale pitch six outstanding innings, holding Toronto to just a run on four hits while striking out six. Tampa Bay has an entirely rebuilt rotation after losing multiple pitchers to injuries both last year and this spring. They are counting on Civale pitching as he did in Cleveland rather than as he did after the trade sending him to Tampa. Pre-trade, Civale had a 2.34 ERA. After, it ballooned to 5.36.

The Rays have a creative, analytically driven front office that typically solves problems. Littell is another one of those experiments, with Rays brass hoping he can prove as effective as a starting pitcher as he was in relief for all those years.

Bo Bichette over 1.5 total bases


Probable Pitchers

Toronto: LHP Yusei Kikuchi (last season: 11-6, 3.86 ERA, 9.72 K/9, 1.27 WHIP)

To his credit, Kikuchi didn’t coast off a career year in 2023. He came into spring training intent on improving his changeup to help him neutralize right-handed hitters. He threw out his old split-finger changeup and worked on throwing the more common circle changeup. His results were not great in the Grapefruit League, pitching to a nearly 17.00 ERA, but those numbers can be deceiving given a sample size of just 7 2/3 innings. He did strike out 10 batters.

Kikuchi had an impressive whiff rate last year due largely to a lively fastball and one of the best sliders in the major leagues. His breaking ball run value ranked in the 91st percentile. Before the 2023 season, he added a curveball that was good enough that Kikuchi elected to throw it 19% of the time last season. He threw his changeup, by contrast, just 9% of the time, but because of the pitch’s effectiveness vs. righties, he likely will look to bump that rate in 2024. Kikuchi was one of the best power lefties in the league last season, but this early it’s at least worth wondering whether he’s going through some growing pains as his stuff evolves.

Tampa Bay: RHP Zack Littell (last season: 3-6, 4.10 ERA, 7.4 K/9, 1.18 WHIP)

With as many losses as the Rays’ pitching staff has endured over the last year or so, the club could certainly use another step forward by Littell. Spring results were not only promising but impressive, as Littell went his first 10 innings without allowing a run and finished the spring with a 13.3 K/BB rate in 13 1/3 innings without allowing a home run. At 28, this would be a good time for Littell to step up and cement a rotation spot after spending most of his six-year career as a reliever.

Littell might have the finest command of any pitcher in the major leagues, as his walk rate last season was tops in MLB. His fastball is lively enough, averaging 94 mph, but his primary weapon is a slider that he threw 39% of the time last season. He also throws his changeup a decent amount, primarily against lefties.

Littell converted from relief late last season after the Rays’ rotation was decimated by injuries. The club seems intent on continuing the plan, but it will only work as long as he performs.


The weather will continue to be pleasant under the climate-controlled dome at Tropicana Field.

  • Friday the Jays reverted to a troubling trend from 2023: struggling against the AL East. Toronto is now 7-8 vs. Tampa Bay since the start of last season and 15-25 vs. the other division opponents. They’ll look to start reversing that trend starting Saturday.
  • Friday’s game again exceeded the run total of (8), meaning the Jays have so far bucked another ’23 trend that saw Toronto go 70-82-9 o/u.
  • Tampa Bay is a reliable over-hitter, on the other hand. It has gone 91-69-4 o/u since the start of last season. Only the Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers have hit a higher rate of overs.
  • Springer became the first Blue Jays player to hit home runs in the first two games of the team’s season since Vernon Wells in 2010. He connected off Civale in the third inning to give the Jays a 1-0 lead. Springer is hoping to bounce back from a sub-par 2023 season that saw him hit just 21 home runs.
  • Diaz’s hot hitting has carried over from spring training into the regular season. He mashed four home runs and had a 1.008 OPS in the spring. Thus far, he is batting .556 with a 1.556 OPS while scoring three runs in these first two games.

MLB Bets To Consider

  • This seems like a good opportunity to ride the only clear trend from the series so far: runs. Over-8.5 feels like a strong play given Kikuchi’s bad spring, which might be the product of trying to integrate a new pitch and Littell’s lack of innings. It feels like both pitchers might be out of the game early, exposing the underbelly of the teams’ bullpens. A batter or two in each lineup is red hot and that should help, too.
  • A Jays batter has struck out in the first inning in each of the first two games. That’s not surprising in this era of massively inflated strikeouts. We’ve already discussed how Littell’s pinpoint command and nasty breaking stuff make him a sneaky-good strikeout pitcher. All of that would lead us to lean toward Littell being the first pitcher to get a strikeout, even at -170. Expecting three straight major league hitters to avoid striking out is a lot to ask these days.