- MLB recently announced a 60-game regular season will start on July 23 or 24
- In the most recent odds, AL Pennant favorites the Yankees and Astros saw their odds get longer
- We explore whether you should jump on either after a slight slide, or if an underdog will win the AL
After moths of negotiations between MLB and the MLBPA, we finally have baseball in our sights. And now we can concentrate on what really matters: the AL Pennant and World Series.
Baseball’s new 60-game schedule is unlike anything we’ve seen.
The sport prided itself on its 162 game schedule, looking at it as a great equalizer. Now, one massive hot or cold streak could easily spell disaster for a contender or underdog in 2020.
2020 AL Pennant Odds
|Team||2019 Record||2020 AL Pennant Odds|
|New York Yankees||103-59||+168|
|Tampa Bay Rays||96-66||+993|
|Chicago White Sox||72-89||+1200|
|Boston Red Sox||84-78||+2067|
|Toronto Blue Jays||67-95||+6333|
|Kansas City Royals||59-103||+13333|
Odds as of June 26th.
This is the first time we’ve updated our 2020 AL Pennant odds since the 60-game season was announced.
While not massive, both the Yankees (+160 to +168) and Astros (+386 to +425) saw their odds get longer. The same happened to the Twins and Rays. Meanwhile the White Sox, Indians and Athletics all saw their odds get slightly shorter.
Yankees, Astros Still Favorites for AL Pennant
Both teams are loaded on offense, so scoring runs shouldn’t be a problem. But what about preventing them?
Houston’s loss was New York’s gain as Gerrit Cole now heads up the Yanks’ rotation. But the Pinstripes will be missing Luis Severino and Domingo German for the year.
Yankees vs Astros: Starting Rotation
|Gerrit Cole||SP1||Justin Verlander|
|Masahiro Tanaka||SP2||Zack Greinke|
|James Paxton||SP3||Lance McCullers|
|JA Happ||SP4||Jose Urquidy|
|Jordan Montgomery||SP5||Josh James|
When considering a shortened season, both teams have questions.
Both Greinke and Verlander are over 35 and must work quickly to get warmed up. Those two names offer an immediate advantage in the AL Pennant race though. The downside is that Urquidy and James have just 11 career starts.
Assuming health, Verlander, Greinke, McCullers, and Urquidy should be a formidable top four.
Not that it wasn’t before, but making it through 162 games with two 36+ year olds and another right off TJ would’ve been complicated. For 60, though? Tremendous. #ForTheH
— Ben DuBose (@BenDuBose) June 24, 2020
For the Yankees, it’s depth.
Paxton is healthy now, but always has durability concerns. Any missed games take on a heightened importance.
The back end of the rotation features a 37-year old Happ coming off of his worst season since 2011, and Jordan Montgomery who pitched in two games last year following Tommy John surgery.
Twins Offer Depth in Short Season
Quietly the Minnesota Twins may have positioned themselves the best for a run at the AL Pennant.
They added three starting pitchers over the off-season, and bolstered their bullpen by retaining Sergio Romo and adding Tyler Clippard. Minny also dipped into the free agent market for Josh Donaldson, who adds power to a team that beat out the Yankees for the MLB lead in homers last year.
*7* Twins ranked in the top 30 in K/BB ratio in the 2nd half of 2019 (relievers w/ min. 20 IP):
1. Stashak – 25.00
11. Rogers – 9.75
13. Romo – 8.25
20. Duffey – 5.88
24. Clippard – 5.57
26. Littell – 5.25
30. May – 4.78
High octane group.
— Nash Walker (@Nashwalker9) February 25, 2020
With Miguel Sano clear of that strange kidnapping/blackmail fiasco, the Twins are settled and ready heading into 2020.
Middle Tier Teams Primed to Suprise
Three teams have become popular in the AL Pennant race, with sports books reporting the Athletics, White Sox and Angels have taken plenty of recent money.
Each provide some intrigue.
One team that could benefit from a short season: the Oakland A's
Their young core of Matt Chapman (27), Matt Olson (26), and Marcus Semien (29) could be dangerous if they got hot for a couple months
Chapman: 126 OPS+ 8.3 WAR
Olson: 137 OPS+ 5.4 WAR
Semien: 138 OPS+ 8.9 WAR pic.twitter.com/2kWq5bnHov
— MLBHome (@MLBHome_) June 18, 2020
All three have loaded offenses. The Angels have Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon, while the A’s and White Sox young cores are approaching their primes.
The big issue is pitching. The Angels are a step behind, while the A’s are relying on mostly young arms. The White Sox have a mix of youth and veterans, and could receive a big boost from a returning Michael Kopech.
Athletics, Twins Carry AL Pennant Value
Given the choice between the Athletics and White Sox, we’ll side with the team that has won 97 games in back-to-back years. That, and the A’s have publicly said they’ve been eyeing 2020.
With the Astros and A’s fighting it out, the value that the Twins provide is tough to turn down.
If they can put it together quickly, Minnesota may be able to capitalize where other teams fall short in 2020.
Let's have fun and keep it civil.