The AL Pennant Odds Favor the Astros; an Elite Team with Elite Team Building
The Houston Astros core has grown up together and become a formidable force in Major League Baseball. Springer, Altuve, Correa, and Bregman have a championship nucleus for the team, supported by other young players and a pitching staff led by imported veterans and Cy Young favorites Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole, plus closer Roberto Osuna. The team has posted more than 100 victories in each of the past three seasons; beginning in their 2017 World Series Championship campaign. The odds for a Houston Astros 2019 Al Pennant are -120.
Manager AJ Hinch seems to have pushed all the right buttons, as his team leads the league in batting average and OPS, and could possibly feature two 20-game winners each with 300 strikeouts.
The Yankees Keep Going Despite Injuries, But Their Pitching Staff is a Big Question Mark
Battling the Astros for the top spot and home-field advantage in the AL playoffs are the resilient New York Yankees, whose AL Pennant odds are +200. Aaron Boone’s bunch stands just a game and half behind the Astros with four left to play.
Beset throughout the season by injuries to superstars Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, and Gary Sanchez, the team has rallied around newcomer DJ LeMahieu and homegrown Gleyber Torres to post 100 victories for the second straight year and to win the AL East for the first time since 2012. The Yanks will be without this season’s best pitcher Domingo German for the post-season, and have had a barely top-five staff over the season, with a starters’ ERA well north of 4.00. The Yankees have put up losing records this season against the Astros (3-4) in what could be the League Championship Series.
The Twins Will Represent the AL Central and Are Being Dubiously Overlooked
Everyone has been waiting for the surprising Minnesota Twins to falter all season, but the Twins clinched the AL Central thanks to a solid win against the Tigers and the White Sox dismantling of the Twins on Wednesday night. The AL Central champs odds of winning the AL Pennant are +700. The Twins turned around a losing season last year as they approach the AL Central crown.
DH Nelson Cruz has paced an offense filled with young talent, ranking second in the league in overall offense and boasting five players with more than 30 home runs. 25-year-old Jose Berrios has led the pitching staff for first-year manager Rocco Baldelli. The Twins are 4-3 versus the Astros and 2-4 versus the Yankees one of whom they will challenge in a likely divisional round series.
The Wild Card Derby: Three Teams Going to the Wire for Two Spots
The Wild Card race for the two final playoff spots in the AL has come down to three clubs. Oakland has a one-half game lead over Tampa Bay, and a full game lead over Cleveland. The A’s, with AL Pennant odds of +1000, finish the season against the Angels and Mariners, while the Rays (+1400) face the Yankees and Blue Jays, and the Indians (+1400) meet the White Sox and Nationals. A 163rd game and coin flip possibilities are all in play as the postseason chase heads into the final weekend. Of note is that the Astros have a losing record this year against the Rays, while the Yankees have a losing record against both the A’s and the Indians.
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