In a close matchup, give me the reigning World Series champs plus money.

The Blue Jays (33-28) have the advantage at home tonight, with Kevin Gausman getting the start. Gausman is in the early conversation for AL Cy Young, having pitched to a 2.76 ERA with a 32.9% strikeout rate (top 8% of the league). The only issue is that Gausman has allowed a hard-hit rate in the bottom 19% of the league and a max exit velocity in the bottom 29%. The Astros (36-24) took advantage of that when these two met up earlier in the season, tagging him for seven earned runs and forcing an early exit in the fourth.

Toronto cannot afford for Gausman to leave this game early after their bullpen was depleted last night in an 11-4 rout.

On the other side, Houston’s starter is in the conversation for Rookie of the Year. Hunter Brown has been solid to start the season, with a 3.61 ERA that closely resembles his 3.66 xERA. The Jays have yet to see Brown this season, but his max exit velocity and hard-hit rate allowed mirror Gausman’s number. The Jays certainly will have a chance to get to him if they are on their game. However, all of Houston’s high-leverage relievers will be available in tonight’s matchup after Brandon Bielak pitched 6⅔ innings while holding a commanding lead.

Both teams have been hot lately, with Houston and Toronto each winning seven of their last 10 games; Houston has scored 5.5 runs per game across the last two weeks of play, while the Jays have scored 5.0.

This matchup sets up to be a close one, with the Blue Jays having the advantage at starting pitching but the edge shifting to the Astros when it comes to the bullpen. Houston’s pen remains among the best in the league with a 3.31 ERA. The Jays are not far behind with a 3.74 ERA, but they will not have all their arms available if Gausman cannot go deep into the game.

The Astros are 18-10 (64%) on the road this season, while the Jays are 15-11 (58%) at home.

This four-game series will likely be an even split. The Astros took the first game decisively, and I will take the value at plus money to win their second tonight -- though in a much closer fashion.

The Bet: Astros ML +110

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