Oskeim Sports previews the American League East for the 2019 MLB season. Oskeim will be providing a betting preview on all American League and National League divisions. Be sure to visit Oskeim’s blog daily for all of his award-winning MLB betting advice.
American East Betting Preview
The Boston Red Sox dominated play last season winning a franchise record 108 games. They cruised through the postseason, winning 11 of 14 games to a World Series championship. Had it not been for the Red Sox, the talk of the league could have been the New York Yankees, winning 100 games. These two teams will likely battle for top honors in the AL East and perhaps all of baseball.
Tampa Bay is the pick for third and could be a dark horse for a wild card spot, while the Blue Jays and Orioles figure to bring up the rear in the division.
Taking a closer look at the teams, the one question for the Red Sox is the back end of their bullpen. Craig Kimbrell is still on the market and likely will be leaving. Matt Barnes is currently projected as the closer to start the season.
A strikeout pitcher, Barnes fanned 96 in 62 innings last season. However, his ERA of 3.65 would be relatively high for a closer and has little experience in that role.
Chris Sale leads a strong starting rotation which is likely to be even better should Nathan Eovaldi pitch an entire season after starting only 21 games last year.
The starting eight remain the same from last year, lead by JD Martinez (43 home runs, 130 RBI) and Mookie Betts (.346, 32 home runs, 30 stolen bases). Other top threats in this potent lineup include Andrew Benintendi (16 home runs, 87 RBI) and Xander Bogaerts (23 home runs, 103 RBI).
The Yankees have a legitimate shot to dethrone the Red Sox mainly by solidifying the pitching staff, adding James Paxton, securing JA Happ and Zach Britton, while adding Adam Ottavino. Although losing David Robertson to the Phillies, the Yankees did an excellent job filling in his spot near the back end of the bullpen.
The offense last season was quite powerful, smashing 267 home runs. A return to form by Gaby Sanchez, who hit just .186 in 83 games will make the Yankees offense even more daunting. Giancarlo Stanton leads the way with 38 home runs, followed by Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks, and Didi Gregorious, all with 27.
What makes the Yankees perhaps the most dangerous team in the league is that they are never out of a game. They can outslug teams on days when their pitching is mediocre. Look for the battle between the Yankees and Red Sox for first to be tight and decided late in the season.
While the Tampa Bay Rays likely won’t top both the Yankees and Red Sox, they have a shot at the wild card and could surprise many people. They had a 90 win season a year ago, much due to a hot September in which they won 19 of 28 games. The question is whether or not they can carry that into this season or was it a fluke?
The Rays only real power threat last year was C.J. Cron, who hit 30 home runs in 501 at-bats. However, he is now with the Twins. The Rays added Avasail Garcia, who hit 18 home runs in only 93 games with the White Sox last season. If he can play a full season, he’s a legitimate number replacement for Cron.
The Rays rely on a pitching staff lead by Blake Snell, who went 21-5 with a 1.89 ERA last season. The staff pitched to a very solid 3.74 ERA and without the firepower of the Red Sox and Yankees, will need the pitching to thrive throughout the season in order to pose a serious threat.
Toronto and Baltimore finished at the bottom of the division last season and with both teams in rebuilding mode, will likely be the same. Toronto had a solid offensively lineup last year that belted 217 home runs, despite hitting just .244.
However, they lack star power to make up for a below-average pitching staff that posted a 4.85 ERA. JA Happ, who was traded to the Yankees later in the season, was the only pitcher to reach 10 wins. There is little to believe the Blue Jays can improve on their 73-win total last season.
Baltimore’s Adam Jones is a free agent and likely won’t return. As a team, the Orioles hit only .239 with 622 runs scored, led by Trey Mancini’s 24 home runs. On the mound, the Orioles pitched to a very poor 5.18 ERA. Alex Cobb and Dylan Bundy each had 15 wins but their ERA’s were approaching or over five.
There isn’t much to suggest the Orioles can approach a .500 season this year after losing 115 last year.
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