MLB Regular Season
Matchup: Toronto Blue Jays at Seattle Mariners
Date/Time: July 26, 4:10 p.m. ET
Pitching Matchup: Mark Buehrle (11-5, 3.23) vs. Taijuan Walker (7-7, 5.06)
MLB Betting Odds From BetDSI Sportsbook
Moneyline: Toronto -110
Mark Buehrle is making a strong case to be one of the most underrated pitchers of all-time. Taijuan Walker is still trying to make his case that he can be a viable Major League starting pitcher. Old meets young on Sunday afternoon at Safeco Field as the Toronto Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners wrap up their weekend set in the Pacific Northwest. The Blue Jays are a very slight road favorite at most shops on the overnight lines.
The Toronto Blue Jays are looking to add over the next five days as they try to secure one of the two American League wild card spots or even catch the New York Yankees. The Seattle Mariners don’t have a lot going for them right now. They don’t have very much trade bait and they don’t really have much of a chance at getting back into the playoff picture. At this point, it’s about finding out about what they have to help for next season and Sunday’s starter, Taijuan Walker, will be a big part of that. He’ll get a big test against one of baseball’s best lineups in this one.
Mark Buehrle is getting it done once again. After posting a 3.39 ERA with a 3.66 FIP and a 4.09 xFIP last season, many wondered if he could do it again. The 3.39 ERA was Buehrle’s best single-season mark since 2005, when his Chicago White Sox won the World Series. This season, Buehrle has managed to be even better in the ERA category with a 3.23 mark. Buerhle is quite a marvel when you think about it. He’s pretty much never reached 90 miles per hour with a pitch, but he is working on his 15th straight season with 200 or more innings pitched.
Buehrle’s strikeout rate has fallen from last season, but he is exhibiting the best control of his career from a walk standpoint. Buehrle’s 3.8 percent walk rate is among the lowest in the league. Also, he has induced more ground balls this season than he did last season. He’s pounding the strike zone and putting the onus on the hitter to put his various junkballs into play and it isn’t working out for them. He’s an incredible pitcher for somebody not blessed with a big arm or wipeout breaking balls.
Taijuan Walker was, however, blessed with a big arm. Walker started baseball later in life than most players do, but he was in the big leagues at just 21 years of age in 2013. Most of Walker’s professional career has been plagued by injuries. Recurring shoulder problems have stunted his development and have hurt his ability to develop some consistency. Over a seven-start stretch from May 29 to July 1, Walker showcased the talent and upside that have made him a top prospect year after year. He was 6-1 in that span with 51 strikeouts against just three walks and held opposing hitters to a .199/.221/.318 slash. Over his last three starts, Walker has been lit up like a Christmas tree with a 9.39 ERA and a .313/.353/.609 slash against.
Command is a problem for the hard-throwing righty. He has allowed 17 home runs and 111 hits in 106.2 innings of work. That’s the inconsistency and the immaturity showing through. Walker has a ton of upside, a fantastic arm, and some pretty nasty breaking stuff. The problem is that he has some Jekyll and Hyde tendencies from pitch to pitch. If he could put it all together, and stay healthy, the Mariners will really have something here. This start will be a great test for him, against a lineup with a ton of power.
MLB Prediction: Toronto Blue Jays
This is a hard game to pick. Walker has the chance to be absolutely dazzling on any given day, but he also has the chance to blow up in your face. Because of Mark Buehrle’s consistency, the slightest of leans goes to him and the Blue Jays on Sunday afternoon. Walker seems to go through stretches where his mechanics get away from him and his command problems are magnified. Buehrle is an expert at staying within himself and figuring out a way to get by.