The Houston Astros and New York Yankees dominated the American League this season en route to winning the West and East division titles and are the clear-cut favorites in the MLB playoff odds to claim the AL pennant. The No. 1 seed Astros and the No. 2 Yankees host Game 1 of their respective AL Division Series on Tuesday after opponents are determined through a pair of three-game wild-card series that start on Friday. The Central champion Cleveland Guardians are seeded third, followed by three wild-card teams in the No. 4 Toronto Blue Jays, No. 5 Seattle Mariners, and No. 6 Tampa Bay Rays.
Here’s a look at the AL playoff participants and whether they are worth a look at the sportsbook.
Tampa Bay Rays (+1000)
Tampa Bay was ravaged by injuries in 2022, so it did well to make the playoffs for the fourth straight year. The Rays start the postseason by visiting the Guardians and will be hard-pressed to leave Cleveland smiling. Tampa Bay is battle-tested after going 40-36 against the AL East. However, the Rays have the worst road record (35-46) among the postseason clubs.
Toronto Blue Jays (+700)
Toronto was a popular choice to win it all in 2022, but the pitching staff didn’t keep up with the offense. The Blue Jays are the top wild-card team and host the Mariners, who are making their first postseason appearance in 21 years. Toronto is favored to win the series and carries all of Canada’s hopes on its shoulders, but Seattle has nothing to lose and can pull a wild-card upset.
Cleveland Guardians (+1000)
Cleveland begins a quest for its first American League title since 2016 by hosting Tampa Bay. The Guardians won the season series 4-2 after claiming two of three in Cleveland on Sept. 27-29. The Guardians are a slight favorite to defeat the Rays and earn a shot at the Yankees. Cleveland was outscored 38-14 in losing the season series to New York 5-1. Only the biggest believers will have the faith to get behind Cleveland in the MLB picks.
Seattle Mariners (+800)
Seattle visits Toronto in a matchup of 1977 expansion teams and has an excellent chance to continue its season against Houston in the ALDS. The Mariners celebrated like it was 2001 – the last time they made the playoffs – after clinching on Sept. 30 in walk-off fashion. Seattle is well-armed with Robbie Ray, Luis Castillo, and rookie Logan Gilbert. Ray will likely start Game 2, marking his first appearance in Toronto since winning the 2021 AL Cy Young Award while with the Blue Jays. Seattle also boasts heavy AL Rookie of the Year favorite Julio Rodriguez. The party ends for the Mariners’ diehards that are betting online when they meet the Astros.
New York Yankees (+200)
New York coasted to the AL East title, winning by seven games after leading by 15½. The Yankees were a one-man team for long stretches of 2022 as Aaron Judge put together one of the greatest seasons in MLB history. The soon-to-be free agent belted an American League-record 62 home runs while hitting .311 and collecting 131 RBIs. New York boasted the second-lowest ERA in the AL in 2022 while leading the majors with 254 home runs. The Yankees recorded a plus-240 run differential, second to only the Los Angeles Dodgers (plus-334). The Yankees should have little trouble with the Guardians in the ALDS, but the same cannot be said for their chances against the Astros in the AL Championship Series.
Houston Astros (+150)
The MLB lines have Houston pegged properly as the favorite to win their fourth AL title in the last six seasons. The most likely outcome is the Astros playing the Yankees in the ALCS. Houston won five of seven meetings against New York in 2022, including all three in Texas. The Astros boast the league’s top ERA, with likely AL Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander leading the way. Houston’s offense generally ranks third in the league behind Toronto and New York, and the lineup is littered with positive postseason experience. The Astros and Yankees last met in the postseason in 2019, when Houston prevailed before losing to Washington in the World Series. Expect the Astros to reach their fourth World Series since 2017, where they will meet the upset winners of the National League.