TORONTO BLUE JAYS (17-24)
at ATLANTA BRAVES (16-21)
First pitch: Thursday, 7:35 p.m. ET
Line: Toronto -110, Atlanta +100, Total: 7.5
The Blue Jays will be hoping to avoid a four-game losing streak when they take on the red-hot Braves on Thursday.
Toronto had seemingly found its groove over the past few weeks, but the team comes into this game on a three-game losing streak. In a division as good as the AL East, the team must find its footing soon. The Blue Jays can’t afford to fall too far behind once again, so this game against the Braves is a big one. Atlanta, meanwhile, is playing its best baseball of the season right now. The Braves have won three straight games and five of their past six, and they have done so with some explosive offense. In the first three games of this series, the Braves put up a total of 27 runs on 34 hits. They’ll hope to keep that up when they try to finish off the sweep at home. The starters in this Thursday night matchup are going to be RHP Marcus Stroman (3-2, 3.33 ERA, 40 K) for Toronto and RHP Julio Teheran (3-3, 4.08 ERA, 34 K) for Atlanta. These are two of the best pitchers these teams have to offer, so don’t be surprised if this one turns into a duel on the mound. It is, however, worth noting that the Braves are 1-10 against the money line at home over the past two seasons when the money line is between +125 and -125 when Teheran is starting. 1B Freddie Freeman (Wrist) is out indefinitely for Atlanta.
The Blue Jays can really use a victory on Thursday, and they’ll be happy to have Stroman on the mound in a must-win game. Over his past two starts, the righty has allowed just two earned runs in 12 innings of work. He has, however, walked four batters and allowed 14 hits in those games. He’ll need to do a bit of a better job of keeping people off the bases in this one. Offensively, the Jays will need some production out of guys like OF Jose Bautista (.208 BA, 6 HR, 19 RBI) and 2B Devon Travis (.209 BA, 1 HR, 10 RBI). Bautista has had a few big games lately, as he has had two or more hits in three of the past five contests. He has also homered in four of the past eight games, and it’d be big if he can go yard once again on Thursday. Travis, meanwhile, has also gotten himself going a bit. He hit two doubles in three straight games before going 1-for-2 with a walk on Wednesday. That’s big for a career .286 hitter that is hitting just .209 on the season. He knows he is far too good to struggle the way he has, but his confidence is back now.
The Braves are playing some great baseball right now, and a lot of that obviously has to do with the play of superstar 1B Freddie Freeman (.341 BA, 14 HR, 25 RBI). While these things really never hold up, Freeman is currently on pace to hit 61 homers and drive in 109 RBI. Unfortunately the Braves must find a way to produce offensively without the slugger. He injured his wrist and could be out for the next 8-10 weeks. The Braves will, however, need the good Julio Teheran to show up on Thursday, and not the bad one. Teheran is definitely Atlanta’s ace, but he is very inconsistent. His last start went very well for the team, allowing no earned runs in six innings of work. He did, however, allow a total of 10 earned runs in his previous two starts. Both of those came at home, which is exactly where he’ll be in this one. Teheran must show up or the team has no chance of earning a sweep.