This season we will take a periodic look at each division in the big leagues and attempt to surmise where each team is and how they might look in the near future for MLB picks against the sportsbooks.
Our first peak will be at the American League East which tightly packed as expected.
Orioles – Staying the Course
After winning 96 games last season and being division champions, many MLB baseball handicappers thought their personnel losses and some injured players who have yet to return would cost Baltimore. But thanks to a scalding Adam Jones, Caleb Joseph and Travis Snider, the Orioles offense has been strong and once Manny Machado starts hitting, he can pick up the slack once Jones cools off. Manager Buck Showalter continues to prove he’s on the best in the game and this team keeps finding ways to win, just like last season. After playing at Toronto this week, the O’s might be an appealing play versus the MLB odds when they open a nine-game homestand against both kinds of Sox (Red and White) and Tampa Bay.
Red Sox – Work in Progress
There have been examples of teams going from worst to first in baseball history, which is what Boston was projected to do in many circles. The Red Sox handed out big contracts to Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez to beef up the offense, while trying to implement younger players like Mookie Betts, Brock Holt and Xander Bogaerts. After a quick start, the offense recently sputtered and Boston might have another adventure playing another Ramirez, who looks out of place in front of the Green Monster. Though the season is still very young, skipper John Farrell has a collection of mid to back of the rotation starters and they have not performed all that well which anyone serious about sports picks will be monitoring. The BoSox will stay in the division for the next 2 ½ weeks and have to be regarded as so-so play versus the betting odds.
Yankees – New York turns around slow start and looks to start grinding
After the Pinstripes started 3-6, the vultures in the city that never sleeps were already to brand the Yankees and old washed-up group that was rudderless and living in the past. But winning is the best deodorant and the sweep of Tampa Bay on the road has given most everyone looking at the Yankees a fresh perspective. The offense is being led by Alex Rodriguez, whose bat speed looks like when he was five or more years younger (no he’s not taking…never mind, just a passing thought). The starting pitching has been adequate, but the bullpen has been one of the finest in the AL to this point. If Carlos Beltran, Mark Teixeria and Chase Headley start to produce, the four-game road trip to Detroit followed a Big Apple battle with the other New York baseball team could at least have the Yankees be 50-50 wager despite those opponents having a combined 20-5 record.
Rays – When it Goes Bad, it is Ugly
Not many figured Tampa Bay would be a huge factor in their division, but a pretty good start has a few folks at least contemplating the Rays MIGHT be a little better that first thought. However, this past weekend’s sweep at home by a pedestrian Yankees outfit could well be a foreshadowing of this team finishing with a win total of 75 on the season. Tampa Bay did not hit, the starting pitching was crummy and the bullpen now has the worst ERA in the league. The Rays will be home the rest of this week and will play 15 division games now thru May 6th and if they do not find answers swiftly, they turn into at the very least a short term play against material.
Blue Jays – Pitching Problems for Toronto
Coming into the season Toronto looked like would be fielding a better product than the last couple years and if they pitching staff came through and did their part, the Blue Jays were a definite threat in the division. Thus far, not good, with Toronto’s hurlers 13th in on-base percentage allowed and 14th in ERA. This organization is so desperate for pitching help they called up Jeff Francis Saturday, who has only managed to have a 10-year career because he was a former No. 1 draft of Colorado’s and he’s left handed. How else can you explain a pitcher with 240 appearances (217 starts), who has a career ERA of 4.95 and somebody finds him their best alternative? The Jays just lost series at home to Atlanta, who over the past decade has been one of the poorest interleague road teams. Having to find itself against Baltimore followed by a 10-game road trip will test their internal strength. Keep this in mind when placing your next MLB picks.