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The New York Yankees won the AL East for the first time in six years in 2019, and they're the overwhelming favorites to win it again this season.
The Boston Red Sox are going to get worse before they get better, the Toronto Blue Jays are a year away from being a year away, and the Baltimore Orioles will do well to avoid finishing with the worst record in baseball. The AL East is a two-horse race.
|New York Yankees||-750|
|Tampa Bay Rays||+650|
|Boston Red Sox||+1100|
|Toronto Blue Jays||+3500|
When healthy, the Yankees boast arguably the most complete roster in all of baseball. But the Yankees aren't healthy. They haven't been in quite some time, and it's not entirely clear when they will be. Luis Severino will miss the entirety of the 2020 season and James Paxton is out for at least two months. Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, both of whom both have histories of ailments, are unlikely to be ready for Opening Day.
The significant injuries to the rotation mean the Yankees will need considerable contributions from the likes of 37-year-old J.A. Happ, as well as Jordan Montgomery and Jonathan Loaisiga, two hurlers who combined to pitch just 35.2 MLB innings last season. Domingo German could provide assistance, but not until he returns from an 81-game suspension. The Yankees certainly have pitching depth, but just how deep are they going to have to go?
If the Yankees are forced to suffer through the next six months shorthanded, their injury woes could certainly open a window for another team loaded with talent: the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Rays have a star-studded rotation anchored by a trio of starters with Cy Young capabilities, though they don't come without question marks either. Something is wrong with Blake Snell's elbow, Tyler Glasnow has never pitched more than 112 innings in an MLB season, and Charlie Morton is coming off a career-high 194.2 innings pitched at the age of 36.
That said, Tampa has the pitching depth to survive if any of those three misses time. The likes of Yonny Chirinos, Ryan Yarbrough, and Brendan McKay are all ready and capable of filling prominent roles in the rotation, and they have a lights-out bullpen to support them.
The Rays allowed the second-fewest runs in the American League last season and could very well improve on that mark in 2020. It was the lineup that held them back last year, with the team finishing middle-of-the-pack in terms of runs scored. But Tampa should be able to take a considerable step forward in that regard this season.
Austin Meadows is a bona fide star coming off a breakout campaign, and he should have plenty of support from an improved lineup. Brandon Lowe and Yandy Diaz's 2019 campaigns were marred by injures, but both flashed impressive skills to suggest breakouts are imminent.
The lineup should also get a massive injection of power from the arrivals of Hunter Renfroe, Jose Martinez, and Yoshitomo Tsutsugo. Former top prospect Willy Adames, who's in the midst of a strong spring, appears ready to burst onto the scene.
The Yankees won 103 games last season while enduring a laundry list of injuries. But the Rays weren't far behind - despite getting just 167 combined innings from Snell and Glasnow. The AL East is undeniably New York's division to lose, but this Tampa team is significantly improved following a 96-win campaign and represents excellent value at longer than 6-1.
Best bet: Tampa Bay Rays (+650)
Alex Moretto is a sports betting writer for theScore. A journalism graduate from Guelph-Humber University, he has worked in sports media for over a decade. He will bet on anything from the Super Bowl to amateur soccer, is too impatient for futures, and will never trust a kicker. Find him on Twitter @alexjmoretto.