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AL Pennant Odds Roundup: Blue Jays Bolster Futures

by OddsShark (@OddsShark) – Sponsored Post

The Toronto Blue Jays offer enticing value on the American League championship futures, since they appear to be far from done adding talent for a deep run in 2021.

The Blue Jays are listed at +900 on the odds to win the American League pennant at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The New York Yankees have the top odds at +250, followed by the Chicago White Sox (+400) and Minnesota Twins (+800). The Blue Jays are getting the same odds at online sports betting sites as the Oakland Athletics (+900) and reigning league champion Tampa Bay Rays (+900), followed by the Houston Astros (+1000) and Los Angeles Angels (+1600).

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Toronto has already signed three all-stars as free agents: middle infielder Marcus Semien, a one-time American League MVP finalist, slugging outfielder George Springer, and closer Kirby Yates. There is widespread speculation that president Mark Shapiro and general manager Ross Atkins will add more pieces to a team that earned a wild-card berth in the expanded 16-team MLB playoffs last season, putting together a 32-28 record in the pandemic-shortened regular season.

Toronto scored the third-most runs in the AL last season with a lineup whose seven best hitters, according to OPS+ (park-adjusted on-base plus slugging percentages), were all under 30 years old. The Blue Jays’ downfall was their pitching. While lefthander Hyun-Jin Ryu put down a 2.69 earned-run average, the rest of the starting staff posted a 5.21 figure. The relievers’ 4.71 ERA was also 13th in the 15-team AL.

Elsewhere, the Yankees are an overwhelming favorite to at least finish first in the AL East thanks to a lineup led by Aaron Judge and DJ LeMahieu. But their focus has been on staying under MLB’s luxury-tax threshold, which could lead to sacrificing the pitching depth that is necessary to win a pennant. It might be best to hold off to see whether the early season leads to the Yankees regaining some betting value, or sorting out their starting pitching staff.

The White Sox, led by first baseman Jose Abreu and righthander Lucas Giolito, have yet to share postseason success together. But they were the lone AL team to finish in the circuit’s top five in runs scored and fewest runs against, and being in the shallow AL Central could up the division winner’s chance to have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

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A similar lack of recent October success seems like a reason to fade the Athletics and Twins. There is more value on offer with either the Rays or Astros. Tampa Bay has shown it can always reform after dealing off top-of-the-line talents such as lefthander Blake Snell, who was packaged off to the San Diego Padres. Houston, apart from Springer, should return much of the same cast which fell one win shy of the 2020 pennant.

Major League Baseball will use a 10-team playoff format for 2021, with the winner of a one-game wild-card series joining three first-place clubs in the Division Series round. It is not clear where the Blue Jays, who used Sahlen Field in Buffalo, N.Y., as a home stadium in 2020, will play home games. Their most likely alternative if Toronto’s Rogers Centre is a no-go is their spring training stadium in Dunedin, Fla.

Check out OddsShark on Twitter and Instagram or head to YouTube for analysis on this week’s top games. As well, the OddsShark Computer serves up daily MLB picks for bettors.

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