The Miami Marlins are defying expectations in 2020 and have a chance to push past .500 to start September with a win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday.
Projected by many to be among MLB's worst teams following a 105-loss 2019 campaign, Miami has instead overcome a COVID-19 outbreak in the organization and is right in the thick of the NL playoff race. Can the Marlins improve on a 1-8 home record, though?
In the rest of abe Insights' preview for this interleague showdown, you'll find the best odds across all major sportsbooks, a glimpse at the primary betting lines, key stats to consider and more pertinent information for this matchup.
Date: Tuesday, September 1
Time: 6:40 p.m. ET
TV: Fox Sports 1
Implied Probabilities: Blue Jays 51%; Marlins 52%
Spread: TOR -1.5 (+150); MIA +1.5 (-182)
Moneyline: TOR -105; MIA -107
Following Monday's MLB trade deadline, these two clubs should have new players in their lineups. Former Arizona outfielder Starling Marte joins Miami to hopefully provide a spark on offense. Jonathan Villar was just a member of the Marlins mere hours ago. Suddenly, his potential first game as a Jay is against his ex-team.
Elieser Hernandez is going to start on the mount for the hosts, and he's been impressive in his third MLB campaign with a 1-0 mark and 3.04 ERA in five starts. Toronto is playing its starter close to the vest as of this writing.
3.0 vs. -1.2: In FanGraphs' Wins Above Replacement, Miami's relievers ranks in MLB's bottom three, while the Blue Jays bullpen sits atop the hierarchy. It'll be interesting to see if the visitors just deploy a relief platoon over a traditional starter on Tuesday.
.193 vs. .133: The Jays have a 60-point edge when it comes to isolated power. The Marlins rank second-lowest in all of baseball, whereas Toronto is inside the top 10, which may come in handy for the Birds whenever Hernandez leaves the mound.
12.6 vs. 3.9: OK, let's cut the Marlins a break. They do lead MLB in Ultimate Zone Rating per 150 games, yet Toronto isn't slacking on defense, either, with an eighth-place ranking in this category.
In 23.2 innings pitched, Hernandez has an incredible strikeout rate of 33%. The math is simple, but that's basically sending every third batter back to the dugout on strikes. It's thanks to a wicked fastball-slider combination, which accounts for almost 95% of his pitches.
Whatever Hernandez lacks in velocity on his heater (91.7 mph), he makes up for with nasty movement and a big contrast in speed with his biting slider. That pitch clocks in at an average of 79.5 mph on the radar gun. Due to Hernandez's consistent delivery and command, it's hard for hitters to know what's coming.
The good news for Toronto is that when Hernandez last faced a lineup with considerable power in it, he gave up four runs and two homers in four innings versus the Mets. These young Jays can get hot against any pitcher and jump out to a lead in a hurry.
Outfielders Teoscar Hernandez and Randal Grichuk have led the Blue Jays with 12 and nine home runs respectively in 2020. Young stars Cavan Biggio and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. are also exceptional at driving the ball deep. Biggio has improved his plate discipline in his sophomore season, drawing a team-high 21 walks.
What Marlins fans really need to worry about is what happens after Hernandez is finished, in the likely event he can't make it all nine innings. Their relievers must step up, especially if Toronto is trailing and taking big cuts to quickly erase a deficit.
It's going to be a tight one if the lines are any indication, and the Blue Jays' mysterious starting pitcher makes it more difficult to predict. Since Hernandez has been solid all year, look for more action to go on the Marlins' spread and moneyline as slight favorites.
The run total is a fairly standard, but look for wagers to skew to the Under due to Hernandez's stellar form and the fact that Miami doesn't have much pop in its batting order.
Note: Odds current as of 1:10 p.m. ET on Tuesday, September 1.
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