Fri. Aug 14, 2015
The Toronto Blue Jays exploded into first place in the American League East, extending their win streak to 10 games with an eye-opening 10-3 victory over the Oakland Athletics on August 12. It's been an incredible tear for the Jays since the beginning of the month, and they've brought Canadian baseball bettors along for the ride.
Toronto has quickly become the most popular play at the sportsbook, not just north of the border but across the entire industry. Unsurprisingly though, it's been in Canada where the Blue Jays have drawn the most action, set as moneyline favourites in all but two of those 10 games, and oddsmakers have responded to that buzz with specials props and Blue Jays betting odds focused on Toronto's turnaround.
Sports Interaction has offered a constantly-updating season win total for the Jays, with the Over/Under sitting at 90.5 wins following that crushing triumph over Oakland. Looking back at the past five seasons, Toronto will need at least 95 wins to take the top spot in the AL East and secure its first playoff spot since the 1993 World Series team.
If you're among the growing group of Blue Jays believers you may want to double up on the Over (-115) win total with action on their division odds (-222 to win AL East) on whether or not Toronto will make the postseason, via the division crown or wild card. Oddsmakers had the club pegged as a big -1,000 favourite to make it to October, heading into Wednesday, with "No" on the playoff prop paying +600.
Toronto's second-half surge has also garnered a flood off money on the MLB futures market, pushing the Jays all the way to the top of the American Pennant odds (+183) as well as the outright World Series winner board, with Toronto sitting at +375 ahead of the Kansas City (+400), Los Angeles (+500), and St. Louis (+700).
This tremendous about face (45-46 at the All-Star break) and subsequent Blue Jays betting wild fire didn't come out of thin air. In a season where the big-spending AL East was suffering through a down year - with Boston at the bottom of the barrel, Baltimore and Tampa Bay barely playing .500 baseball, and the Yankees leading the division most of the way with an unimpressive effort - the Blue Jays' front office seized a rare opportunity.
Many point to Toronto's big-name moves during the trade deadline as the catalyst for this success but you could go see the wheels turning all the way back in late November, when the franchise dealt Canadian fan favourite Brett Lawrie to the A's for third baseman Josh Donaldson, in a move that didn't go over well with many Blue Jays faithful.
Fast forward to August and Donaldson, who set the all-time record with 14,090,188 All-Star votes, is the cornerstone of the most imposing lineup in baseball and hitting just under .300 BA with more than 30 home runs. He recorded two hits, a walk and two RBIs in that 10-3 smashing of his former club and is among the front runners for American League MVP honors.
Of course, Donaldson is just one of the reasons why Toronto is the hottest team in the major leagues. As mentioned above, the Jays brass was a big mover-and-shaker during the trade deadline. The club stunned pundits by wheeling and dealing for All-Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki from Colorado, swapping out rapidly-aging SS Jose Reyes for an upgrade on both sides of the ball. Tulowitzki hasn't missed the hitter-friendly thin air of Coors Field at all, thriving as the Jays' new leadoff hitter.
The Jays weren't done there, padding their pitching staff with David Price in a trade with Detroit, giving the club a proven go-to ace come October. Along with Tulowitzki and Price, Toronto added speedy outfield Ben Revere, and bolstered its bullpen with relievers Mark Lowe and LaTroy Hawkins.
That aggressive mindset from GM Alex Anthopoulos has bled over to the diamond, giving the Blue Jays a swagger that hasn't been displayed by a Toronto sports franchise since Joe Carter belted a World Series-winning home run back in 1993. This new-found confidence was on full display when Toronto swept the Yankees over a three-game weekend set from August 7-9, outscoring New York 10-1 in those three contests and taking its first series sweep in the Bronx in 12 years.
That dominating performance put the big leagues on notice and opened the gate on the Blue Jays betting bandwagon in Canada and the US. Canadian sports betting fans, who usually spend their August counting down the days until the puck drops on the NHL schedule, have put a nation of support behind Toronto's team - which in reality is Canada's team.
The Rogers Centre was sold out for all three of the Jays' home games with the Yankees in mid-August and ticket resale prices are going through the roof, with fans paying double what they normally would for seats. Apparel sales and TV ratings are also spiking. But as always, it was the savvy sports betting market that first reacted to Toronto's surge, making the Blue Jays the hottest bet of the summer.
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