Mariners vs. Blue Jays Game 1 Prediction and Odds for AL Wild Card (Vlad Guerrero Jr Ready for Postseason Breakout)

Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (27)
Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (27) / Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The drought is over!

The Seattle Mariners have made the playoffs, and now we finally get to see this exciting young team extend beyond the regular season.

The Toronto Blue Jays also fit the bill as an exciting young contender and host the Mariners at the Rogers Centre for the new best-of-three model for the wild card round. 

Seattle paid a premium for former Cincinnati Reds pitcher Luis Castillo at the deadline, so it’s not surprising he’s on the mound for Game 1. Toronto , meanwhile, gives the nod to Alek Manoah. 

Here are the odds for Friday's opening matchup:

Mariners vs. Blue Jays Odds, Run Line and Total

Mariners vs. Blue Jays Prediction and Pick

It certainly feels like the MLB’s next young star to have their postseason breakout will come from this Wild Card series. I’m not sure if it will be Julio Rodriguez, Vlad Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, or somebody else a little more under the radar, but their moment is coming. Remember how great the postseason atmosphere at the Rogers Centre was for Jose Bautista’s bat flip? We get more of that in 2022 with some even more exciting players. 

It feels like we have seen him for years, but Guerrero Jr. is just 24 years old and one could argue that he had a down year with just 32 homers and an .818 OPS. Then again, he had a 94th percentile hard hit rate, ranked in the 96th percentile for average exit velocity via Baseball Savant. and his strikeout rate was 81st percentile. He hits the ball hard and doesn’t strike out much, so he's the perfect candidate to break out in the postseason. He last played in a postseason game in 2020 when he had a .393 OPS in eight plate appearances. 

Castillo will have a test against the Toronto lineup, and he has been good, but not his dominant self down the stretch of the season with a 3.48 ERA in September and October. He also gets hit hard at times with a league average hard hit rate. 

While Castillo has been mediocre of late, Manoah is as dominant as ever. He finished the year with a 2.24 ERA and a 92nd percentile hard hit rate that led to only 16 homers let up all year. He allowed four runs in his last six starts for an 0.88 ERA. 

I'm not only backing the Blue Jays in Game 1, but I'm taking them to cover the run line total as well.

PICK: Blue Jays -1.5 (+152)

Follow all Josh Yourish’s bets HERE