The Toronto Blue Jays are worth backing at home to the New York Yankees on Sunday. While Jays starter Josh Johnson had a horrible turn on the road against the Detroit Tigers on 11 April (1 1/3 innings pitched, six runs allowed), he’s had two strong outings at home (13 innings pitched, 5 earned runs allowed). He shined in his last appearance against the Chicago White Sox, going seven innings and yielding two runs.
I’m even more confident that Ivan Nova will continue to struggle. Nova has good raw skills but typically fails to translate them into success. Last year, he sported a 5.02 ERA and this year, through two starts, he’s at 5.59. Particularly notable is the fact that Nova gets crushed by right-handed hitting (righties are batting an astonishing .524 against him). The Blue Jays have the talent to mount a very righty-heavy line-up. Go for the Jays at 1.65.
Runs will be in plentiful supply when the Cleveland Indians square off in Houston against the Astros. Two marquee pitchers on the decline get the call in this one. Back in 2010, Ubaldo Jimenez finished third in the National League Cy Young voting as a member of the Colorado Rockies. Now with the Indians, he’s a faint shadow of his former self. Over the past two years, he’s posted back-to-back seasons with an ERA over 5.00 and he’s begun 2013 with an 11.25 ERA in three starts.
The Astros’ Erik Bedard was also once a top-tier pitcher: he finished fifth in the Cy Young award voting back in 2007 with the Orioles. Now he struggles to complete five innings – which is a dicey proposition in Houston, where the bullpen is not deep. While both the Indians and the Astros are at the bottom of their respective divisions, both teams are decent hitting clubs (Houston is ranked seventh out of 15 teams in the AL, with Cleveland ninth). Take over 9.0 runs at 1.97 as these pitchers will struggle to keep it tight.