AL East Update: Red Sox Still the 'Team to Beat' with Your MLB Picks

Ross Benjamin

Saturday, May 2, 2015 3:41 PM GMT

Our MLB consultant shares his early thoughts on what’s transpired in the AL East during the first month of the season. He also references his article AL East futures article that was written prior to the season, and discusses an early surprise in addition to how some teams have played true to form.

Current Standings

Team

W

L

Pct

GB

Yankees

13

9

.591

--

Rays

12

10

.545

1.0

Red Sox

12

10

.545

1.0

Orioles

10

10

.500

2.0

Blue Jays

11

12

.478

2.5

 

Current Odds to win AL East

- Boston Red Sox +175

- New York Yankees +250

- Baltimore Orioles +350

- Toronto Blue Jays +350

- Tampa Bay Rays +650

 

Early Surprise
The 12-10 start by the Tampa Bay Rays doesn’t appear to be overly impressive on the surface, but it’s certainly been encouraging nonetheless. The Rays began the season at MLB betting odds of +700 to win the AL East, and they’re currently at +650. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to uncover why they’ve had moderate success in the early going. Simply put, their pitching has been rock solid. Rays opponents are hitting a paltry .214 against them, and that’s best in the American League. They’ve also converted on a very good 10 of 11 save opportunities. Contrarily, Tampa Bay ranks last in just about every offensive statistical category compared to the other four teams in the AL East. There’s just too much offensive firepower in this division for the Rays to be considered a legitimate contender.

 

Team Most Likely to Surge
When I did my AL East futures predictions prior to the start of the season, the Red Sox were my choice at MLB betting odds of +190 to win the division. Despite getting off to a less than blazing 12-10 start, they’re currently an even bigger favorite of +175.

Quite frankly their pitching has been horrible to start the year, and I don’t expect that it will be a long term issue. Four of the five starters in the rotation currently have an ERA of 5.00 or worse, and the one that doesn’t is Joe Kelly at 4.94. There’s just too much experience on this staff between Clay Buchholz, Rick Porcello, Justin Masterson, and Wade Miley for this negative trend to continue. In addition, Kuji Uehara has converted on just 4 of 7 save opportunities, and I look for him to go on one of those successful runs where he converts a high percentage of save opportunities over a long length of time.

The Boston Red Sox have scored 113 runs thus far which is 3rd best in the American League, and have bashed 26 homers in their first 22 games. If anything, their offensive numbers will only get better and not worse. Shane Victorino (.443), Allen Craig (.118), and Mike Napoli (.162) have been in horrible slumps to start the season. It’s just a matter of time before those quality major league hitters break out.

 

Offensive Juggernauts
We can draw a lot of parallels between the Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles. Both can put up plenty of runs and hit for huge power numbers. Each team’s starting pitching has been horrible thus far, and barring some imminent personnel moves, I’m not seeing the light at the end of the tunnel pertaining rectifying this issue for either club. I will say this, the backend of the Baltimore bullpen is very good, and the Blue Jays collective set of relievers may be the worst in baseball. Toronto is 1st in runs scored, 4th in home runs, and 5th in team batting average according to AL statistics. Baltimore is 3rd in runs scored, 1st in home runs, and 1st in team slugging percentage. Baltimore is 13th in American League pitching ERA and Toronto is 14th. I rest my case.

Don't forget to keep checking our MLB picks for more updates 

Now the Rise and Later the Fall for “Bronx Bombers”
I’m of the strong opinion that the Yankees are setting up their loyal and vast fan base for a huge disappointment. Their moderately successful 13-9 start has swayed the books from their opening MLB betting odds of +450 down to +250 to win the AL East. However, I’m going to maintain my position that I had conveyed in my AL East futures article written in early April, the Yankees were overvalued then, and are abundantly so now.

I will have this to say, the Yankees bullpen in the first month has made me look foolish. I projected this aspect of their team to be the weakest in almost a decade. However, they’ve been the polar opposite. The Yankees bullpen has posted a combined 1.75 ERA, a 0.96 WHIP, and has converted on 9 of 10 save opportunities. Those are excellent numbers no matter how you assess it.

The starting pitching leaves a lot to be concerned about. C.C. Sabathia has posted a large 5.96 ERA in his first four starts, Masahiro Tanaka was off to a good start but will now be sidelined for the next four weeks with a wrist injury, and Ivan Nova is on the 60-day DL with an elbow injury. Although the Yankees have been producing offensively, their lineup is an aging one, and there’s very little if any quality bench depth. It still remains to be seen whether Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, and Carlos Beltran can stay healthy for any length of time based on their recent resumes.