When the 2021 Major League Baseball season opened back in late March, the New York Yankees were the favorites on the MLB odds to win the American League pennant. However, they have disappointed and are now +800 to do so. The betting favorites at +250 each are the Houston Astros and Chicago White Sox.
Major League Baseball | Who will win the American League pennant?
At 54-35, the White Sox lead the AL Central by a whopping eight games. Chicago is succeeding despite major injuries suffered by outfielders Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert, second baseman Nick Madrigal and catcher Yasmani Grandal. Madrigal is done for the year, so expect Chicago to make a trade for a second baseman by the deadline. The other three all will be back at some point.
There was some concern when Jimenez might miss the season after suffering a ruptured left pectoral tendon in March, but he’s way ahead of schedule and on a rehab assignment. The 24-year-old — who played in his first rehab game Saturday for the Class A Winston-Salem Dash and hit a homer — will be transferred to the Class AAA Charlotte Knights beginning Tuesday.
“When we allow ourselves, I mean, as a team, to be where we are without him (Jiménez), and without Luis (Robert) and (Nick) Madrigal, you know, the whole litany of issues, and now Yaz (Yasmani Grandal), you know, the guys start to own the fact that they’re gonna play hard and play with whoever we got,” La Russa said. “But they know that help is on the way.”
Andrew Vaughn has done quite well filling in for Jimenez both offensively and defensively. The rookie is batting .253 with 10 homers and 26 RBIs. Robert, meanwhile, should be back sometime next month as should Grandal. The Sox will open the second half with a six-game homestand vs. Houston and then Minnesota.
White Sox starting pitchers lead the American League in wins (38) strikeouts (550) and opp. slugging (.362), rank second in ERA (3.38), opp. average (.222) and OPS (.652) and third in IP (481.1). The Sox rotation has allowed two runs or less in 56 games (16 scoreless) this season, the second-most in the AL (Houston, 57).
Chicago is attempting to make the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the first time in franchise history. The Sox have been in first place every day since May 7. This is the latest into a season the Sox have been in first since 2012.
Houston is 55-36 and leads the AL West by 3.5 games over Oakland. There is some concern, though, over starting pitcher Zack Greinke as he left his final start over the weekend with elbow soreness. Manager Dusty Baker decided four innings were enough because Greinke wasn’t as sharp with his fastball like usual and he was throwing a lot of curveballs. Even after Saturday’s abbreviated outing, the 37-year-old right-hander leads the American League in innings, with 115 1/3.
“It’s been bothering me for a little over a month,” Greinke said. “And just hoping to have a shorter start this time with a bit of extra days from the All-Star break and be rested for the second half is the goal.”
The Astros have gone 41-21 (.661) vs. teams with .500-or-better records this season, which are the most wins and is the best winning pct. against .500+ opponents by any team in the Majors this season. That includes 12 series victories over .500+ opponents.
The Yankees are 46-43 and would miss the playoffs as things stand but enter the All-Star break with a record of .500-or-better for the 25th consecutive season. That marks the second-longest streak in Major League history behind the Yankees’ 32 straight seasons from 1933-64. New York has posted a winning record after the All-Star break in each of the last 27 seasons with an All-Star break (1993-2019), the second-longest such streak in Major League history, behind their own 32-year streak from 1933-64.New York has won back-to-back series after losing their previous three. It has won or split 17 of their last 24 completed series since 4/20 (14-7-3).Expert pennant pick
- White Sox
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