The Toronto Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners meet in Game 1 of the best-of-three Wild Card Series on Friday. In keeping with the rules of the new postseason structure, all games of this series will be hosted by the higher-seeded Blue Jays. The winner of this series will advance to the best-of-five American League Division Series to face the AL West-champion Houston Astros.
You can view the full postseason schedule by clicking here, and . Now, let's get to the important stuff for Game 1.
How to watch
Date: Friday, Oct. 7 | Time: 4:07 p.m. ET
Location: Rogers Centre (Toronto, Ontario)
TV channel: ESPN | Live stream: fuboTV (try for free)
Starting pitchers: RHP Luis Castillo (4-2, 3.17 ERA with Seattle) vs. RHP Alek Manoah (16-7, 2.24 ERA)
Odds (via Caesars Sportsbook): TOR: -135; SEA: +115; OU: 7
Assuming the two teams in question are roughly evenly matched, the team that wins Game 1 of a best-of-three has a 75 percent chance of winning the series. So Game 1, suffice it to say, is critical.
The Blue Jays have the most right-handed lineup in all of baseball, and Castillo is indeed very tough on same-side hitters. The M's also have an abundance of useful right-handed relievers to attack that heavily righty lineup in the middle-to-late innings. Countering all of that, however, is that the heavily right-handed Toronto lineup was actually very good against right-handed pitching this season. That entire dynamic is something to watch in this series. As for Manoah, he's established himself as one of the top starting pitchers in the American League. In one start against Seattle during the regular season, he allowed two runs on three hits in 7 1/3 innings with seven strikeouts and one walk.
The match-ups concerns for Toronto are noted above, but the reality is that they're simply the better team. They had a better record and better run differential than Seattle, and they did it against a significantly tougher schedule (the toughest schedule in MLB, as measured by opponents' average winning percentage). We'll lean Jays at home in the opener.
Pick: Blue Jays 4, Mariners 3