Dan Karpuc: Cleveland Guardians +1400 at BetMGM
Let’s give the AL Central winners some respect! While the Yankees and Astros have both excelled throughout most of the year and are solid picks to win the American League pennant, I’m not exactly sold on either of them, as I don’t view them as complete teams. The Blue Jays don’t have any quality left-handed hitting and I also don’t trust the Mariners or Rays. Therefore, why not target the Guardians, who will face the worst of the three wild card teams in a best-of-three series to start off the postseason?
The Guardians are now the first team in MLB history to win a division or league title while seeing at least 16 rookies make their MLB debuts, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. This team banded together as the season rolled along and before they clinched the division on Sept. 25, they had earned it by winning 18 of the last 21 games. We’ve seen this “us against the world” mentality win before (thinking of the Royals in 2015) and streaky teams are typically the most dangerous at this time of the year. Jose Ramirez and Andres Gimenez are having All-Star years; Shane Bieber, Triston McKenzie and Cal Quantrill make up a solid postseason rotation; and Emmanuel Clase is one of the best closers in baseball. With 14/1 odds, I’m going to take a shot on them and Terry Francona might be the perfect manager to rally an underdog team like this to make some noise.
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Lucy Burdge: Houston Astros +175 at DraftKings
The Astros have won the AL West for the fifth time in the last six seasons and I think they have the best chance to win the AL pennant, too. The Mariners have started to skid a bit; the Yankees have been very up-and-down; the Rays were just swept by the Astros; and I think Houston has more stamina and staying power than other top AL teams. Plus, I’m rooting for former Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez to win something here and get justice for Boston trading him this summer. With Cy Young favorite Justin Verlander leading the rotation, I think the Astros have what it takes to win the AL pennant.
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Brad Pinkerton: New York Yankees +225 at Caesars
Lucy already took the favorite (Houston) and Dan already took the best value (Cleveland), so I'll take the team that might ruin the postseason for both of them. True, the Yankees have had their ups and downs this season, but the ups can be much higher than any AL team heading to the postseason right now. Teams won't have the luxury of pitching around Aaron Judge when every run (and base runner) counts in a playoff series, and Aaron Boone has plenty of options to give Judge some lineup protection in October -- don't forget about the returns of DJ LeMahieu and possibly Matt Carpenter and Andrew Benintendi. And with the AL's No. 2 bullpen and No. 3 rotation in terms of ERA, the Yankees have the arms to hang with Houston (No. 1 in both) long enough to let their No. 1 scoring offense take over.
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