The New York Yankees were slow at the start of 2021, but the team has already erased what was a several game deficit in the American League East. As of this writing, the Bronx Bombers sit only a game-and-a-half out of first in the division.
With the most talented lineup in the division, a pitching staff rounding into form, and reinforcements on the way, the Yanks are the clear bet to win the division given the current odds at DraftKings Sportsbook.
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The Yanks offense has not been its typical dominant self. Only hitting .226 as a team this season, the team has relied on drawing walks as a source of offense, posting a walk rate over 11%.
However, despite the likes of D.J. LeMahieu and Gleyber Torres batting below their expectations, the Yanks are eighth in weighted runs created +. wRC+ quantifies run creation opportunities and normalizes it for external factors. Despite struggling to hit early, the Yanks are still an elite offense, and only getting better.
It’s a matter of time before Lamehiu -- a career .300 hitter -- gets to his normal splits, while Torres is due to break out. The young shortstop is yet to hit a home run this season.
The lineup is still as dangerous as any in the league, especially when Giancarlo Stanton is playing like he has through the first 30 games of the season. The Yankees slugger is hitting .314 with eight homers and 22 runs batted in. Him, along with Aaron Judge, open up this New York lineup.
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We know how good Gerrit Cole is, but the Yankees had question marks looking down the rotation. Corey Kluber has eased some concerns after a shaky start to the season. He has put together two straight strong performances, including an eight inning, 10 strikeout performance against the Tigers last time out.
If Kluber is pitching closer to his Cy Young self, that opens up a lot of avenues for the Yanks, who still have arguably the best bullpen in the MLB.
Headlined by closer Aroldis Chapman -- no earned runs in 11 innings of work in 2021-- the Yankees have the capability of passing the game to the pen in the sixth inning and winning from there.
Luke Voit underwent knee surgery during spring training, which has held him out of the lineup to this point, but he is already in Triple-A getting himself back into game shape. Voit led the league in homers in 2020 and will be another dangerous weapon for Aaron Boone to deploy.
The Yanks also have Zach Britton on the mend. The reliever had elbow surgery in March and is available to be activated off the 60-day IL list on May 31st. We don’t know if he’ll be ready then, but it’s promising that the Yanks have gotten by without a key arm out of the bullpen.
Lastly, Luis Severino looms. After a series of injuries culminating in Tommy John surgery, Severino is trying to get himself back onto the Major League roster. Who knows what to expect from him, but if he can make an impact, that only helps the Yankees chances.
The Yankees sit as a short -125 favorite to win the AL East. This number is selling NYY short, as they are in great shape to run away with the division.
The Red Sox have been great to date, paced by a strong offense, but don’t have the pitching to go toe-to-toe with the Yankees. Boston’s starting pitching staff is outside the top 10 in wins above replacement, per FanGraphs.
Tampa Bay may have the Yankees number, but have posted a -1 run differential this season. They may be a playoff team, but they don’t have the upside to keep pace with New York over the full 162 game season.
While Toronto is an exciting, young team, they profile similar to the Red Sox. This is a team capable of putting up big numbers on offense, +24 run differential, but also has question marks at the back of their rotation.
No, the Orioles aren’t making a run at the division.
The Yankees have whittled their division deficit to less than two games already. Winners of five straight, no one is going to slow down this team that has found their stride and primed to win back-to-back division titles.
*All numbers were used prior to Wednesday's games.