Homecomings are always interesting for pitchers. Steven Matz will have one on Friday night as the Toronto Blue Jays head to Queens to take on the New York Mets. Matz was drafted by the Mets in 2009 and had not played for another team up until going to the Blue Jays for the 2021 season.
His Blue Jays are a small favorite or a small underdog, depending on the sportsbook, as the consensus price is around -105. At BetUS Sportsbook, the total is 8.5 for the series opener of this interleague matchup. It will be Tylor Megill who draws the tough assignment against the potent Toronto offense.
Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays have certainly enjoyed their two homes this season. They’ll head north of the border to play at Rogers Centre when this road trip is over. TD Ballpark in Dunedin, Florida and Sahlen Field in Buffalo, New York have been very kind to the Blue Jays. They lead the league in home wOBA at .357 and SLG at .495. We’ll see if they have the same success up in Toronto.
Relative to the rest of the league, the Blue Jays have also done well on the road, but with a .317 wOBA. That ranks narrowly inside the top 10 in baseball. They have been far better in their two home parks and we have seen bettors treat the Jays differently on the road compared to at home, for obvious reasons. Bettors may be surprised to see that 8.5 total here, but it is a byproduct of the home/road splits for the Jays and also something happening with the Mets that I’ll touch on shortly.
The home/road splits for the Jays mean that Steven Matz might not get the run support he’s been accustomed to at times this season. Matz has a 4.43 ERA, but he also has a 3.88 xERA and a 3.98 FIP, so he should be a bit better than what his ERA shows. He does have a .328 BABIP against and a 16% HR/FB% with 12 HR allowed in 81.1 innings of work.
The southpaw did miss most of June and has only made three starts since returning from the IL. He has allowed seven earned runs on 14 hits in 11.2 innings of work in those starts against Seattle, Baltimore, and Texas. Matz has pitched better on the road with a 3.70 ERA and a .288 wOBA in his 48.2 innings of work compared to a .385 wOBA and a 5.51 ERA in 32.2 innings across the two ballparks.
New York Mets
The Mets have wound up playing a good number of seven-inning games at home this season, which do lower the scoring averages to a degree, but there have only been 254 runs scored in 42 games at Citi Field this season. The Mets are 28-14 at home and have outscored the opposition 150-104. On the road, they are just 22-29 and have been outscored by 31 runs.
Those are certainly not the same kinds of splits that we’ve seen for the Jays this season. The Mets have had issues scoring at home to say the least and rank 27th in wOBA at home, with the likes of Seattle, Miami, Milwaukee, Texas, and St. Louis. That is not good offensive company to be lumped with and the Mets have to hit better at home if they want to hold their grasp on the NL East lead.
Injuries have played a part. They continue to play a part, as Francisco Lindor and others remain sidelined, but the Mets just have not swung the bats well in Queens this season. And yet, they’ve been so good at limiting the opposition that they’ve got twice as many wins as losses in that ballpark.
Tylor Megill has made five starts, but is still looking for his first MLB win. Megill has a 2.63 ERA with a 3.71 FIP in his 24 innings of work. He’s got a big strikeout rate and has fared well with runners on base, as he has an 89.1% LOB%. Megill has struck out 28 and walked nine in his first five MLB starts.
Megill has only allowed eight hits in 40 plate appearances with men on base. He’s been able to really limit damage as a result and he has not allowed more than three runs in any of his five starts. He’s faced Atlanta twice, Milwaukee, and Pittsburgh twice, with three of those starts coming at Citi Field.
Blue Jays vs. Mets Free Pick
The Blue Jays have made a lot of hay this season by doing damage offensively, but their road numbers are certainly a concern and so is going to Citi Field with one fewer hitter because of the NL ground rules. It is hard enough for teams to produce offense there, let alone an AL team that loses a key hitter. Megill looks to have a higher projection than Matz here, even with the difference between the two offenses, so the home team at the short price gets the nod.