MLB Regular Season

Matchup: Kansas City Royals at Toronto Blue Jays

Date/Time: July 30, 7:07 p.m. ET

Pitching Matchup: Danny Duffy (4-4, 4.03) vs. Marco Estrada (7-6, 3.55)

MLB Betting Odds From BetDSI Sportsbook

Moneyline: Toronto -135

Total: 8.5

The Kansas City Royals have already made the two big splashes that they needed to make in order to solidify their position as the favorites in the American League. The Toronto Blue Jays made one big move, but they’re hoping to make another before Friday’s 4 p.m. ET trade deadline. This should be a very interesting weekend set between two of the league’s top offenses at Rogers Centre. Danny Duffy will take the mound as an underdog against Marco Estrada on Thursday night.

This game certainly has the potential to be an offensive showcase. The Royals entered play on Wednesday ninth in the league in wOBA against right-handed pitching at .323 before Corey Kluber shut them down on a getaway day in Cleveland. The Blue Jays, as everybody knows by now, have a historically-good offense against left-handed pitching this season. They also added Troy Tulowitzki to the fold, a player that posted a .321/.405/.560 slash with the Rockies against lefties. Tulowitzki made his Blue Jays debut on Wednesday night and will be a fixture at shortstop for the rest of the season barring injury.

Danny Duffy has the unfortunate task of facing this lefty-mashing lineup in the series opener. On the bright side, Johnny Cueto will make his Royals debut on Friday. It’s hard to draw a whole lot of conclusions from Duffy, because he has a spotty injury history and has only managed 76 Major League appearances since he made his debut in 2011. He’s made 14 mediocre starts this season with a 4.03 ERA, 4.27 FIP, and a 4.62 xFIP. He hasn’t missed bats with the same success as he has in the past and that has been a big part of the problem.

Duffy probably created some unrealistic expectations with last season’s 2.53 ERA, 3.83 FIP, and 4.42 xFIP. It was clear that some regression of his .239 BABIP against and 77.2 percent strand rate were likely. Fly ball pitchers, like rotation mate Chris Young, can outpitch their advanced metrics, but Duffy’s control problems have kept that from happening this season. Righties are batting .257/.337/.424 off of Duffy this season, with all seven of the home runs he has allowed.

Marco Estrada has wound up being a pretty decent addition for Adam Lind. His advanced metrics aren’t particularly exciting, but he has been a serviceable starter for a team that has needed innings since Marcus Stroman went down, Aaron Sanchez got hurt, and Daniel Norris wasn’t ready for the Majors. As a starter, Estrada has a 3.87 ERA over 88.1 innings of work with a .237/.295/.397 slash against.

Estrada has had a knack for being a reverse splits guy because of a pretty good changeup. He has had some command issues against lefties, who hit 24 home runs off of him in 2013-14, but lefties have five home runs this season in 204 plate appearances with a .222/.281/.362 slash. The Royals have some good lineup balance, but most of their power threats come from the left side. Estrada has done a better job of keeping the ball in the park this season.

MLB Prediction: Toronto Blue Jays

Toronto’s success against lefties is too much to ignore in this game. There are some big advantages for the Royals in this series. The Royals have a much better bullpen and entered play on Wednesday 57 defensive runs better than the Blue Jays. I think that shows in this series, but not on Thursday, when the Blue Jays should be able to have plenty of offensive success.