Odds: Over/under win totals for American League teams

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Bookmaker.com has posted its initial over/under odds for regular season team wins. Here are the American League totals (for entertainment purposes only, of course):

Red Sox           95
Yankees           91.5
Rangers           87
Twins             86.5
White Sox         85.5
Rays              84.5
Tigers            83.5
Athletics         83.5
Angels            83
Blue Jays         76
Orioles           76
Indians           71
Mariners          70
Royals            69.5

Based on those totals the Red Sox are viewed as the clear class of the league after adding Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford to a team that won 89 games last season. However, they also lost Victor Martinez and Adrian Beltre, and the Red Sox have won more than 95 games just twice since 1979.

On the flip side it’s worth noting that the Yankees have won fewer than 92 games just twice since 1996, so even after a disappointing offseason an over/under of 91.5 victories seems pretty pessimistic for a team that won 95 games last year.

At the other end of the spectrum an over/under of 69.5 wins may seem low for even the Royals, but their amazing collection of prospects isn’t likely to help much this season, Zack Greinke is gone, and they’ve topped 69 wins just twice since 2001. If anything the Royals stand out as one of the better “under” bets.

Seattle was the worst team in the league last season with just 61 wins and didn’t do much to upgrade the roster this offseason, but the offense going from historically awful to merely very bad would add a significant number of victories. It’s tough to see the Mariners being actual contenders, but 70-75 wins should be doable.

Without having put a ton of thought into this, I like the Yankees, Orioles, and Mariners the most for “over” and the Red Sox, Angels, and Royals the most for “under.”

In the playoffs, the Yankees’ weakness has become their strength

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Two weeks ago, when the playoffs began, the idea of “bullpenning” once again surfaced, this time with the Yankees as a focus. Because their starting pitching was believed to be a weakness — they had no obvious ace like a Dallas Keuchel or Corey Kluber — and their bullpen was a major strength, the idea of chaining relievers together starting from the first inning gained traction. The likes of Luis Severino, who struggled mightily in the AL Wild Card game, or Masahiro Tanaka (4.79 regular season ERA) couldn’t be relied upon in the postseason, the thought went.

That idea is no longer necessary for the Yankees because the starting rotation has become the club’s greatest strength. Tanaka fired seven shutout innings to help push the Yankees ahead of the Astros in the ALCS, three games to two. They are now one win away from reaching the World Series for the first time since 2009.

It hasn’t just been Tanaka. Since Game 3 of the ALDS, Yankees pitchers have made eight starts spanning 46 1/3 innings. They have allowed 10 runs (nine earned) on 25 hits and 12 walks with 45 strikeouts. That’s a 1.75 ERA with an 8.74 K/9 and 2.33 BB/9. In five of those eight starts, the starter went at least six innings, which has helped preserve the freshness and longevity of the bullpen.

Here’s the full list of performances for Yankee starters this postseason:

Game Starter IP H R ER BB SO HR
AL WC Luis Severino 1/3 4 3 3 1 0 2
ALDS 1 Sonny Gray 3 1/3 3 3 3 4 2 1
ALDS 2 CC Sabathia 5 1/3 3 4 2 3 5 0
ALDS 3 Masahiro Tanaka 7 3 0 0 1 7 0
ALDS 4 Luis Severino 7 4 3 3 1 9 2
ALDS 5 CC Sabathia 4 1/3 5 2 2 0 9 0
ALCS 1 Masahiro Tanaka 6 4 2 2 1 3 0
ALCS 2 Luis Severino 4 2 1 1 2 0 1
ALCS 3 CC Sabathia 6 3 0 0 4 5 0
ALCS 4 Sonny Gray 5 1 2 1 2 4 0
ALCS 5 Masahiro Tanaka 7 3 0 0 1 8 0
TOTAL 55 1/3 35 20 17 20 52 6

In particular, if you hone in on the ALCS starts specifically, Yankee starters have pitched 28 innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on 13 hits and 10 walks with 20 strikeouts. That’s a 1.61 ERA.

While the Yankees’ biggest weakness has become a strength, the Astros’ biggest weakness — the bullpen — has become an even bigger weakness. This is why the Yankees, who won 10 fewer games than the Astros during the regular season, are one win away from reaching the World Series and the Astros are not.