It may be the middle of July, but Opening Day is rapidly approaching for the 2020 season!
With the start of the Major League campaign now just two weeks away, we at SI Gambling are going through some of the most popular odds available at several different sportsbooks across the country within the MLB futures market.
This week into next, we’ll be going division-by-division breaking down the projected win totals for each team. The odds are courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook.
AL East Team-By-Team Win Total Projections
New York Yankees: UNDER 37.5 wins
The Yankees are in a prime spot to crush in this upcoming 60-game season. Their lineup is seemingly back to full strength, and they’ve added the best pitcher in baseball in Gerrit Cole. I even wrote up the Yankees as one of the clear contenders amongst betting favorites in the Majors this season.
When the schedules were first announced, SI MLB insider Tom Verducci pointed out the following observation.
The Yankees will play either the Blue Jays, Orioles or Marlins in 20 of their final 23 games. All three of those teams lost at least 95 games last year, with both Baltimore and Miami losing at least 105.
Here's why I'm leaning on the under: 38 wins may not feel like a lot, but it may be a very difficult milestone to reach in a substantially shortened sample.
38 wins in 60 games amounts to a .633 winning percentage. Roughly 102.6 wins if you spread it out over a traditional 162-game sample. The Yankees won 103 games a season ago.
Fangraphs has the Bronx Bombers projected for just 34 wins, largely due to the depth of the rotation after Gerrit Cole and Masahiro Tanaka. James Paxton is excellent when healthy, but after him, there’s not much to feel great about considering it’s still roughly the same staff that gave up the 28th most HR per nine innings.
Tampa Bay Rays: OVER 33.5 wins
This is a fair number for the Rays who cruised to a 96-win season in 2019. A 33.5 win total projects to 90.45 wins over a 162-game sample, so it allows for slight regression amid a severely shortened sample.
The Rays know their identity. They’re going to outpitch you and outsmart you, while occasionally scoring enough runs and handle themselves in close games.
In 2019, Tampa Bay's starting pitching was in the top five in every statistical category: ERA (4), WHIP (3), BB/9 (2) K/9 (2) H/9 (3) and HR/9 (2). Granted, those numbers specific to the starting rotation can be a bit misleading considering how often the Rays would lead with an Opener, but the lack of runs on the scoreboard does not lie.
Charlie Morton, Blake Snell, and Tyler Glasnow anchor an impressive 1-3 rotation with Yonny Chirinos and Ryan Yarbrough behind. Nick Anderson and Diego Castillo should pick up where they left off at the end of the bullpen and added some more power to their starting lineup with Hunter Renfroe in the Tommy Pham deal with the Padres.
Hitting that over of 33.5 will be close as they likely finish runner-up to the powerhouse Yankees. But they certainly have the capabilities to do so.
Boston Red Sox: UNDER 30.5 wins
The Red Sox have all sorts of issues, and it’s not just due to their trade of their best player in Mookie Betts to the Dodgers this offseason.
Their pitching staff is incredibly unpredictable with no real track record of success. Chris Sale is out for the year with an almost smart-timed Tommy John surgery, and after Eduardo Rodriguez and Nate Eovaldi, there's not much else to like.
Boston will still hit even without Betts. Andrew Benintendi slides nicely into the leadoff spot with Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, and J.D. Martinez, all hitting behind in the order. That 1-4 combination may still be one of the best in baseball, along with Alex Verdugo, the centerpiece player in return from the Dodgers in the Betts trade.
As the Red Sox re-tool in a shortened year, the hitting can carry them for stretches, but I don't see enough to feel entirely secure that they can be better than a .500 team. I'm likely to pass since I think that 30.5 is right where it should be, but my initial lean is slightly under.
Toronto Blue Jays: OVER 27.5 wins
When the Blue Jays finally get some pitching, watch out!
Last year's sneak preview into the Murderer's Row of the sons of former baseball greats made for a compelling storyline for a Blue Jays team starting to reap the benefits of their rebuilding years. Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio, and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. help make up a very exciting lineup north of the border that should benefit from the shortened season.
The pitching needs work, however. Toronto signed Hyun-Jin Ryu from the Dodgers to lead their staff, and also brought in other veterans like Chase Anderson and Tanner Roark as stop-gaps in the rotation. Over a traditional 162-game sample, these are not reliable options, but they can certainly get hot and eat up innings over a 60-game season while the "Baby Jays" mash in a hitter-friendly division.
The Blue Jays are doubtful to be a playoff team for another few years, but I do expect them to surprise some fans and clear their 27.5 win total in 2020. This despite having one of the tougher schedules for the 60-game stretch.
Baltimore Orioles: OVER 20.5 wins
How much time do we have to spend on the Orioles?
The lineup is a hodge-podge of waiver claims, Rule-5 players, and a couple of homegrown draft picks. Their starting rotation is projected on Fangraphs to have an average ERA of over 5.45.
In fairness, Renato Nuñez and Hanser Alberto have staying power, but may not even be on the roster by the time Baltimore is ready to compete again.
For as awful as the Orioles were last year, they still finished with a .333 winning percentage, just a tad lower than what they're projected for this season. If the Orioles somehow start hot, and by hot, I mean hover around .500 through their first 20 games, they only need to win 11 more games in 40 remaining contests to clear the over.