Blue Jays vs Orioles: Tip of the Tower Staff Predictions

Sep 28, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson (20) throws to first base to complete a double play after forcing out Baltimore Orioles center fielder Adam Jones (10) in the ninth inning at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 28, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson (20) throws to first base to complete a double play after forcing out Baltimore Orioles center fielder Adam Jones (10) in the ninth inning at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports /

Three American League East teams made the postseason, but only two can advance to the ALDS. We weigh in with our predictions on who will win tonight’s Wild Card Game between the Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles.

It took 162 games to decide the American League Wild Card standings, as both the Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles secured their playoff spot on the last day of the regular season. Now the two AL East rivals will meet on Tuesday night to determine who advances to the American League Divisional Series to take on the Texas Rangers.

Tuesday will see Marcus Stroman take the mound for the Blue Jays, and Chris Tillman for the Orioles. Both pitchers — and teams — have endured their ups and downs this season, but Vegas odds makers have the Blue Jays pegged as a (-155) favourite with the total set at 8.5.

While Vegas sees the Blue Jays as a modest favourite, we asked our staff to weigh in with who they like for tonight’s Wild Card Game. Here’s what they had to say:

Vinnie Liu: A single wild card game is very difficult to predict but the ever so slight edge goes to the Blue Jays. They won the regular season series 10-9, Stroman did a great job last year in the playoffs, so he’s been there before and the Jays have home field advantage.

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Besides that I think the overall pitching and offensive matchups are even. It really comes down to which team brings their A game tonight.

David Morassutti: I’ll go with 4-3 Blue Jays.

Toronto will have the advantage in pitching even though people do not agree with having Stroman starting. I think the final series in Boston showed that they can handle the high-pressure situation, especially late in the game. If Stroman can limit the number of batters he walks while locating his pitches low in the zone, Toronto should be fine.

Chris Okrainetz: I’ll take the Blue Jays here as well by a final score of 7-5.

The 12 total runs might be a bit optimistic based on the past history of these Wild Card games, as the total has only exceeded nine or more runs in two of the eight games ever played. Add in the way the Blue Jays have hit recently and there are reasons to lean towards the under here.

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However, I do think Tillman’s decrease in velocity during the second half will bode well for the Jays. This lineup has had a lot of success against him in the past and I think they will be able to generate three or four runs off him. I do think the Orioles will score a few runs off Stroman as well, but I feel like he will limit the damage over five or six innings.

The Rogers Centre has been a safe haven for the Blue Jays this year, as they boast a 46-35 record at home, while the Orioles own a 39-42 record on the road. Perhaps this is a bit bias on my end, but I believe the home crowd will help propel the Blue Jays to a victory on Tuesday night and ultimately setup a highly-anticipated series against the Texas Rangers.

Prop Bet: A little degenerate gambler’s special here, but Josh Donaldson to hit a home run at (+325) is worth exploring. Although Donaldson only has four hits during his last 18 at bats, and he only has one home run off Tillman during his career, the exit velocity on the last few balls he has hit suggests the power might be coming soon.

According to Sportnet’s Arden Zwelling, during four at bats against Boston on Sunday, Donaldson posted an exit velocity of 99, 99, 113, and 109 mph. That could also lead to strikeouts, but at (+325), Donaldson to hit a home run might not be a bad play if you have some disposable income.

Ryan Greco: 5-3 Blue Jays.

Don’t let the win-loss numbers fool you, Marcus Stroman was pitching very well for the Blue Jays in the month of September. In that month he sported a 3.41 ERA despite going winless in six starts. Expect him to be his usual fiery, competitive self that we all got to enjoy last October.

His numbers against Baltimore this year are not as a flattering, but neither were his starts against the rest of the league at that time, and Toronto’s offence will need to be what we know it can be to send them to the ALDS.

I predict the Blue Jays to get ahead in the first three innings and stay that way for the rest of teh game. Baltimore will threaten at times, maybe even tie it up at one point in the seventh or eighth inning, but I see the Jays offence FINALLY putting it all together against a good, but certainly not invincible Chris Tillman and the Orioles’ bullpen.

This game comes down to bats and bullpens, though. The starting pitchers are fluff compared to those two aspects.

Demar Grant: 3-0 Jays.

Marcus Stroman is the spirit bomb of Toronto. His performance during last year’s playoff run showed us that he draws energy from the crowd, stage, and moment, and feeds on it.

This is a huge moment for the Jays as the entire season now rests on a knife’s edge and Stroman has found himself dancing on it.

What lies infront of the Jays is a potential failed season leading into an offseason with looming question marks,or another postseason run that sparks a city that has begun to wade in sports success.

The 6 loves Stroman and he loves it back. Give Stroman your energy and he’ll give you the win. Besides, isn’t this supposed to be #OurMoment?

Jake Middleton: I’m going to project 6-3 Blue Jays.

Toronto has an advantage of being at home, where they have a good record, and that home crowd is an insane advantage for them. Also the Orioles are not a very good team on the road, with an under .500 record away from Camden Yards.

While I don’t like the decision to start Marcus Stroman due to the splits the Orioles have against lefties, Stroman’s ability to get ground balls is a big disadvantage to an Orioles team that gets a lot of extra base hits.

If Stroman can keep his control and stay low in the zone he should be effective for five innings. While on the flip side Chris Tillman has gotten absolutely destroyed at the Rogers Centre in his career, and he is clearly injured due to his lower velocity and how hard teams have hit the ball off of him recently.

There is potential for the Jays to get after him early and put a few runs on the board. If the Jays can score early on Tillman I don’t see how the Jays can lose.

I think that Boston series really helped the Jays with their confidence in close games, and I think Devon Travis and Troy Tulowitzki will have big games tonight for the Blue Jays.

Next: Blue Jays vs Orioles: Live Blog and Thread

How do you think Tuesday’s Wild Card game will go? Will the Blue Jays or Orioles win? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.