The Tampa Bay Rays have taken home AL East bragging rights each of the last two seasons. They did so in COVID shortened 2020, and followed it up with 100 wins a season ago to secure the repeat. As much as I’d like to see this small market team pull off the trifecta this baseball betting season, I just don’t think the Rays have enough in the tank to outlast a pair of teams that bring exponentially more thump to the dish every passing game. The New York Yankees offense is yet to truly take flight, and the Toronto Blue Jays look to once again have a team that’s going to compete for division pennants for the foreseeable future. SugarHouse Sportsbook currently has Charlie Montoyo’s troops installed the +125 favorites to win the AL East pennant for the first time since 1993; they hit the board as +230 dogs to do so. The Yanks have moved slightly from +220 to +235, while the Rays have swelled from +170 to +325. It’s crazy to think, but the Boston Red Sox look to be the odd man out with its odds up to +650 from +600. And then there’s the afterthought that is the Baltimore Orioles (250-1). While much can change over the next 5+ months, these are the teams I’d invest in now to win this division.
AL East Odds at SugarHouse Sportsbook
Toronto Blue Jays +125
New York Yankees +235
Tampa Bay Rays +325
Boston Red Sox +650
Baltimore Orioles +25000
Toronto Blue Jays +125
There’s just something about this year’s Blue Jays outfit that leads me to believe they could go wire-to-wire to take home division bragging rights. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. just came up short of winning the AL MVP a season ago. He did so even after winning the Triple Crown. Shohei Ohtani was just that good! That being said, Big Bad Vlad has gotten out to another scorching hot start batting .328 with 5 HR and 12 RBI. His partner in crime – Bo Bichette – is yet to get into a groove, but the hot starts of both George Springer and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. have been able to mask his inefficiencies from the No. 2 hole. In all, Toronto has hit the most home runs in MLB (26) and owns a +7.0 run differential which has allowed for the team to get out to a lucrative 12-6 start for their MLB betting supporters ($399). It owns winning marks both at home (6-2) and on the road (6-4), and stands 6-3 within the division.
An area of concern does however come with the pitching staff; it’s not elite – neither on the starting bump or bullpen. While the starting staff ranks No. 5 in the quality start department, the unit is going to need Hyun-Jin Ryu to figure it out sooner rather than later. He’s been a big disappointment since coming over from the Dodgers. If unable to dramatically improve his bloated 13.50 ERA, the team might be forced to look elsewhere. His output has otherwise killed the collective efforts of Kevin Gausman, Jose Berrios, and Alek Manoah with both Yusei Kikuchi and Ross Stripling outpitching him. The bullpen was a major nuisance a season ago (No. 16), but Jordan Romano settling into the closer’s role has allowed for the unit to take it to the next level. It’s converted nine of 14 save opportunities and held opposing offenses to a .209 collective batting average against. Should this great start be built upon in the coming months, the BJs will be dangerous!
New York Yankees +235
I took a fliers on the Yankees winning both the AL pennant (+550) and World Series (+900) once odds hit the board at SugarHouse after the lockout ended. Evidently, I should’ve waited since better offerings are currently on the board in both respects. But since splitting the first 10 games of the season, Aaron Boone’s squad looks to finally be coming into its own having rattled off wins in six of its last seven games; all as decided favorites. After failing to get into an offensive rhythm early on, the flood gates have opened with it scoring an average of 5.7 runs per game during the hot streak. That’s the type of offensive output I envisioned at the outset of the season when deciding to get involved with the Yanks in the futures market. Anthony Rizzo currently leads the league in home runs (8) after launching two into the night against Baltimore on Tuesday night. DJ LeMahieu is in the midst of yet another All-Star worthy campaign after missing out last year. Most importantly, the injury bug still hasn’t taken a bite out of Aaron Judge. Even with the offense getting next to nothing from both Giancarlo Stanton and Joey Gallo, NY still ranks out above average offensively. This offense is going to be a handful once all the bats finally round into form!
For the Bronx Bombers to go full circle and be the bonafide division threat I expected before Opening Day, the pitching staff is going to need to ratchet up the intensity STAT! As a whole, the starting staff ranks No. 18 overall in the quality start department regardless of owning the No. 4 ranked ERA (2.85). Surprisingly, Gerrit Cole’s 4.00 ERA is the worst of the starting staff. You have to imagine he figures things out in short order. Nestor Cortes Jr. has been nothing short of a blessing early on with his 1.15 ERA and insane 14.4 K/9 average. Luis Severino, Jordan Montgomery, and Jameson Taillon all have ERA’s clocking in at 3.32 or less, but the trio has failed to go deep into games. Thankfully, the Yankees still possess one of the best bullpens in the game (No. 6) with Aroldis Chapman mostly unhittable when not issuing walks and Michael King (0.84 ERA, 18:3 K/BB ratio) looking like the future closer of the franchise. NY only sits a half-game in back of the Blue Jays and is yet to play its best and most consistent brand of baseball. I got a feeling the Yanks overtake Toronto in a month’s time, so this +235 offering might be as good as it gets the remainder of the year!