It is a rematch of last season’s ALDS between the Toronto Blue Jays and Texas Rangers on Thursday with Game 1 in Arlington. Emotions were high a year ago with the Jose Bautista bat flip and it continued over into this season when Texas second baseman Roughed Odor punched Bautista in the face. Last year’s series is definitely history but it has not been forgotten by either side.  Game 1 on Thursday is expected to have a pitching matchup of lefthanders with J.A. Happ going against Cole Hamels. Let’s look at the game and MLB picks.

MLB Odds

The Blue Jays had not officially announced their starter for Game 1 although it should be Happ as he would be pitching on normal rest while the Rangers are going with Hamels. The Rangers should be small home favorites with the total at 9.

Probable Pitching Matchup – Happ vs. Hamels

Happ has been outstanding this season for Toronto as he is a 20-game winner with a 3.18 ERA. Even though Happ had not been officially announced as the Game 1 starter he was thinking that way.  “I’m not sure what we’re going to do just yet, but the sooner the better — we’ll see,” Happ said. “It’d be great (to start Game 1). I’m just looking forward to going out and trying to do my thing and let these guys, hopefully, ride some momentum here. We’re playing solid baseball and that’s what we need to do to beat a great team like Texas.”

The Rangers will be sending Cole Hamels in Game 1 and Yu Darvish in Game 2. Hamels was 15-5 with a 3.32 ERA this season. The concern with Hamels is that he has allowed 24 earned runs in his last 32 innings. Hamels is 1-0 with a 4.05 ERA in his last three starts. Hamels faced the Blue Jays twice last season with the teams splitting the two games with each game going over the total.

Game Notes

Toronto is 43-38 on the road this season with 27 games going over, 51 going under with 3 pushes. The Blue Jays are scoring 4.7 runs per game and allowing 3.8 per contest.

The Rangers are 53-28 at home with 42 going over, 34 going under with 5 pushes. Texas is scoring 4.7 runs per game and giving up 4.4 per contest.

Game Trends

The Blue Jays are 11-4 in the last 15 meetings in Texas. The Blue Jays are 6-1 in their last 7 Game 1’s of a series. The Rangers are 13-3 in their last 16 Game 1’s of a series. The Rangers are 51-25 in their last 76 home games but they are just 1-6 in their last 7 Divisional Playoff home games. The Blue Jays won four of the five meetings against Texas this season.

The Under is 5-1 in the Blue Jays last 6 vs. the American League West. The Under is 23-9 in the Blue Jays last 32 road games. The Under is 4-1 in the Rangers last 5 playoff home games.

MLB Picks

The Rangers have been excellent at home this season winning 53 times and Hamels has been a big game pitcher in his career. I will take Texas to win this contest.