New York Yankees
So far, money has been well spent on Masahiro Tanaka, with the Yankees 7-1 and +5.4 units in his starts. He is the real reason they are near the top of the division standings. New York will have the chance to improve their position in the coming weeks with six games in the Windy City (two with Cubs, and four with White Sox), before heading to St. Louis.
One would generally like the Bronx Bombers chances in interleague action since they have the best record in baseball since its inception. After this they return home for a winnable series with Minnesota before Oakland is in town. After that homestand is a big 10-day road trip.
The Orioles have been at, or near, the top of the AL East all season, mostly because the division lacks panache. If Baltimore expects to be at least in the same spot in three weeks, the offense will have to do better than four runs per game with a grueling slate ahead. The betting odds would appear stacked against the Birds with trips to Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, Houston and Texas. Granted, three of those teams have losing records, but the Pirates and Rangers are capable of more.
As noted by MLB baseball handicappers, the home sked will be no Memorial Day picnic, since coming in Crab Cake City is improving Cleveland, Oakland, Boston and Toronto. The O’s might have to rely on their success in one run games (10-4) to survive the next few weeks.
Toronto Blue Jays
As this week starts, it is hard to fathom Toronto as the only squad in the division with a positive run differential, and there are at least signs the Blue Jays could move up, if they tighten up one area of their team. Toronto is running with the big boys in runs scored at 4.8 (sixth in baseball), providing the notion that they can hit. The pitching overall is at least average, but the bullpen has a 5.26 ERA, which is next to last in the AL. If the Jays are to be more than a pretender, this element has to improve.
Toronto is just 10-11 (-3.2 units) at the Rogers Centre, however, after a three-game trip to Bean Town, the Blue Jays will play 16 of the next 19 at home. Oakland and St. Louis would figure to provide the stiffest competition, leading one to think they need to thrive against Tampa Bay, Kansas City and Minnesota.
Boston Red Sox
In our last report three weeks ago here at SBR, I thought the Red Sox were poised to make a move. Instead they have regressed, down to -8.6 units. The fault mostly lies with an offense generating only 4.1 runs a contest and being humbled by right-handed starters to the tune of 10-19 (-13.1), making the Red Sox strictly 'play against' material for sports picks in this situation.
After a Fenway series with Toronto, Boston will be home, and away with the Rays and Braves the next 10 days, followed by a potentially treacherous trip to Cleveland, Detroit and Baltimore.
Tampa Bay Rays
Tampa Bay is presently the worst team to choose as your MLB picks, and it would be nice to believe help is on the way. Unfortunately, this is not the case, and their run differential is 11th in the junior circuit, and they need help on offense and defense. They start the week with a six-game homestand. Too bad it’s against the A’s and the hated Red Sox. Depending on pitching matchups, sportsbooks might have Tampa Bay as home underdogs, more often than favorites. This will be followed by a three-city excursion to Toronto, Boston and interleague matchup with Miami. An already disappointing campaign could be getting worse.