American League East Preview and Predictions
The TB Rays won 40 of their 60 games in 2020 to win the AL East. They did it behind 3 start pitchers Morton, Snell, and Glasnow. They were the number #1 seed in the AL and went on to play LAD in the World Series. A lot has changed since the end of the season.
The New York Yankees are the favorites to not only win the East, but they are also the favorites to win the American League. NYY is +250 to win the AL Pennant and -175 to win the AL EAST. They are the 2nd favorite to win the World Series at +600 (LAD +450). Using BaseRuns standings NYY would have finished only 1 game back of TB last season instead of 7. BaseRuns are projected wins and losses determined by how many runs are scored and allowed. It helps gauge where teams are via their play both offensively and defensively. NYY thus has only one game to make up against TB versus the 7 you might think. The point is that NYY is better than their record showed.
This season will be about pitching depth not only 1-5, but more like 1-9. The NYY have the deepest 1-9 in the AL. They have Garret Cole who is a true ACE and will not be an underdog in any game this season. NYY is questionable after him, but they have so many arms that they all will not fail. Former Cy Young winner Corey Kluber looks great. Jameson Taillon former PIT #1 starter. Jordan Montgomery and Domingo German are likely the 5 to start the season. Deivi Garcia and Luis Severino make 6 and 7. Then add in their prospects Clarke Schmidt and Michael King. This staff can go 9 deep! They also are loaded with prospects to land another frontline starter like a Luis Castillo from CIN. They have offense as well. As usual with this team over the past few seasons health is always an issue. However, you can not assume people will not play. NYY projects with the best pitching in all of MLB and the 3rd best offense. They are the team to beat in the AL and American League.
The TOR Blue Jays have surpassed the TB Rays for the 2nd spot in the East. Again, looking at BaseRuns, TOR was 6 games behind TB in 2020. They need to make up ground and they did! The Blue Jays are the 5th ranked offense for 2021 and their pitching ranks above TB as well. They added OF George Springer to an offense ranked 13th in 2020. Along with another year of growth from Bichette, Guerrero Jr, and Biggio, this offense is top 5 in MLB. They also brought in 2B Marcus Semien who was recently (2019) in the MVP discussion. They do not have the pitching NYY have, but Ryu is a quality #1 starter. After him they will need some bounce back seasons. Robbie Ray, Tanner Roark, Steven Matz and Ross Stripling are needed to better. Nate Pearson has potential, but he will need to prove how good he can be as last year was not a great debut. They did sure up the bullpen adding Kirby Yates.
I like BOS to battle TB for the 3rd and 4th spots in the division. In my opinion, BOS is highly undervalued. Las Vegas has an 80.5-win total for them and an 85 for TB. It would not surprise me to see those reversed. BOS projected WAR is 35.1 and TB is 34.9. Let’s not forget BOS can hit. BOS gets back Eduardo Rodriguez for the full season and they get Chris Sale for half the season. They also signed Garret Richards, so their pitching is much better than 2020 when they started 16 different pitchers. They will also have prospects Tanner Houck give them quality innings. TB loses 2 od their 3 ACES in Morton and Snell. Yes, they are still good in pitching, but they lose ground to everyone else in the division because of it. Glasnow is their only ACE and when facing team like NYY, Yarbrough, Archer, Wacha, and Hill will all be underdogs in their matchups. They are also not championship quality on offense. They do not have a single player projecting at All-Star levels or in double digits OFF WAR. In this division, you must have offense. NYY, TOR lead the way, and BOS can hit so unless there are ACES on the mound, you will need to score runs.
BAL is improving. They might improve yet again in 2021 but due to the 162-game season, their weaknesses will get exposed. BAL finishes 2020 1 game ahead of BOS but do not expect them to win more than 65 games in 2021.