AL East Second Half Preview Odds to win division: Orioles (+170) Red Sox (+170) Blue Jays (+170) Yankees (+2500), Rays (off)
% chance according to fangraphs: Orioles (25.7%), Red Sox (41.3%), Blue Jays (31.2%), Yankees (1.7%), Rays (0%)
There is one thing that both fangraphs and the oddsmakers agree on. The Rays are dead and buried and the Yankees are not far behind. The Rays just do not have the hitting. They are a team built to get by on pitching, and their staff just has not cut it posting the 11th highest WAR. The Yanks are just old. Masahiro Tanaka has been a great surprise and the bullpen has been spectacular, but this team needs a youth injection in the lineup.
This leaves the three team race. Fangraphs leans towards the Red Sox, the oddsmakers say toss up. This seems like a case where fangraphs has the right idea.
The Orioles pitching has been dreadful. Chris Tillman had a nice start to his season but is coming back towards his 4.11 career ERA. Kevin Gausman has been just as good this season, and should take over the rotation in the second half. Still, this team will have to keep on their pace of out hitting teams at unreasonable rates. Mark Trumbo is hitting well over his head, and the offense may not be better on paper than the Red Sox and the Blue Jays.
The Jays got off to a slow start, but their lineup should get to roaring in the second half. Troy Tulowitzki and Jose Bautista have both dealt with injury. Tulo is back and hitting and Bautista should be back in a couple of weeks. Still, Marco Estrada is well above his head and Aaron Sanchez has pitched 26 more innings than his career high already.
This makes the Red Sox the play. While guys like David Ortiz and Jackie Bradley are playing over their heads, both have the talent to sustain. Ortiz is in his last season, and may provide the extra spark to win the division, and even if Bradley slumps in the late summer, he will bring the defense. The Sox have a better rotation than the O’s and a better bullpen than the Jays. David Price had a weaker first half ERA wise, but everything points to a big second half for the veteran star. They also are getting the 23-year old Eduardo Rodriguez back at the perfect time to potentially give the rotation a boost.
They only sit two games behind the Orioles, but on paper this is the best team in the division. It will come down to the trade deadline and who is most willing to spend, but at the end of the day that probably points back to the Red Sox. If you were to make a bet today it would have to be on the Red Sox
Red Sox +175