Major League Baseball – Boston Red Sox to come out on top in competitive AL East


The 2015 Major League Baseball season kicked off on the 5th April, and this year promises to be one of the most competitive in recent memory. A memorable Opening Day saw Ben Zobrist, Hanley Ramirez (x2), Alex Rios and Jimmy Rollins all treat their new clubs to debut homeruns, Sonny Gray come within 6 outs of a no-hitter, and the Atlanta Braves actually win a game. One of the great things about American sports is that due to the worst teams getting the best draft picks, teams are rarely successful or terrible for long periods of time and that makes predicting what’s going to happen all the more difficult. Let’s take a stab anyway, beginning with the AL East.

Famously one of baseball’s most competitive divisions in the last few years, the AL East will be just as competitive this year, but possibly for all the wrong reasons. Rather than being unable to call a winner between two or three powerhouses, in 2015 the division winner will be the best of a strong but not great pack. Any of the five could feasibly win it, and any of the five could finish last, but the Red Sox seem the best placed to make a playoff run.


AL East Outright Betting Odds:

Boston Red Sox +190

Toronto Blue Jays +250

Baltimore Orioles +350

New York Yankees +450

Tampa Bay Rays +650

(All odds provided by are accurate as of today and subject to change)


Baltimore Orioles

Last season: 96-66, 1st, eliminated in ALCS

Notable additions: Travis Snider

Notable departures: Nelson Cruz, Nick Markakis, Kelly Johnson, Joe Saunders

The Orioles will struggle to replicate an outstanding 2014 campaign that saw them fall two games short of their first World Series since 1983. The tough job of replacing Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis will fall to Travis Snider, David Lough, Delmon Young and the excellent Steve Pearce, with Nolan Reimold also signing a minor league deal. Manny Machado’s return from injury will be a huge boost along with the expected return of Matt Wieters in late April, but hampered by news of an injury to J.J. Hardy. A deep rotation will mean that this Baltimore team is still one capable of challenging in 2015.


Boston Red Sox

Last season: 71-91, 5th

Notable additions: Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval, Rick Porcello, Ryan Hanigan, Wade Miley, Alexi Ogando

Notable departures: Will Middlebrooks, Ryan Dempster, David Ross, Yoenis Cespedes, Burke Badenhop

Awful in 2012, world champs in 2013, awful in 2014, 7th favourite to win the 2015 World Series at time of writing. The Sox have revamped their lineup in some style, adding elite 3rd baseman Pablo Sandoval, and big bat Hanley Ramirez, with the intention of playing him in left field. They can boast great strength in depth, with Brock Holt, Daniel Nava and Allen Craig their bench options, as well as Rusney Castillo and Jackie Bradley Jr. waiting in the minors. There are question marks over the strength of a rotation no longer led by Jon Lester, but if new additions play to expectations this is a Boston team that should be playing October baseball.


New York Yankees

Last season: 84-78, 2nd

Notable additions: Nathan Eovaldi, Garrett Jones, Andrew Miller, Didi Gregorious

Notable departures: Derek Jeter, Hiroki Kuroda, Martin Prado, David Phelps

Somewhat lost in the commotion of Derek Jeter’s retirement was the finish of a disappointing 2014 season for the Yankees. Even with the expensive additions of Masahiro Tanaka, Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann the Yankees won one game fewer than in 2013. Despite losing evergreen starter Hiroki Kuroda the Bronx Bombers have a deep rotation, but a lineup with some holes. Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez are shells of their former selves, and options at middle infield are among the worst in the American League. It’ll take strong seasons from the Yankees’ better players to push the Red Sox for the division title.


Tampa Bay Rays

Last season: 77-85, 4th

Notable additions: Asdrubal Cabrera, Rene Rivera, John Jaso, Steven Souza Jr, Kevin Jepsen, Ernesto Frieri, Erasmo Ramirez

Notable departures: Ben Zobrist, Wil Myers, Yunel Escobar, Jeremy Hellickson, Matt Joyce, Sean Rodriguez, Ryan Hanigan, Jose Molina

2014 was Tampa Bay’s first losing season since rebranding as the Rays and reaching the World Series in 2008 – an incredible streak for one of baseball’s poorest teams. Here begins a period of rebuilding for the Rays, who have acquired a series of prospects over the offseason, as well as in the David Price trade last year. The $7.5m spent on free agent Asdrubal Cabrera, however, signals a certain level of intent that the Rays still believe they can compete in one of baseball’s most competitive divisions. Certainly, were it not for two reasons, I might be tipping Tampa Bay as an outsider for this division. The first is the trade of baseball’s most underrated player Ben Zobrist, and the second is injuries to six starting pitchers (Cobb, Moore, Smyly, Colome, Romero and Burch Smith), which will mean serious contention is beyond them.


Toronto Blue Jays

Last year: 83-79, 3rd

Notable additions: Josh Donaldson, Michael Saunders, Russell Martin, Johan Santana, Andy Dirks

Notable departures: Melky Cabrera, Colby Rasmus, Brett Lawrie, Brandon Morrow, Adam Lind, Anthony Gose

In Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and newly acquired Josh Donaldson, the Blue Jays have the best outfielder, the best first baseman and the best third baseman in the American League East. In Russell Martin they have an elite catcher who gives them the option to have Navarro at DH and play Encarnacion at first, although he’ll see plenty of time at DH as well. Reyes is pretty good and Michael Saunders has some upside. Their rotation, though, is one of the weaker in the division and the bullpen leaves plenty to be desired. A lot of baseballs will clear the left field wall of Rogers Center, and I think the Blue Jays have enough talent to make a push for the postseason.


will avatar WILL COLWELL is a 20 year old Tottenham fan studying at the University of Reading who somehow manages to  attend more Major League Baseball games than Spurs games. Follow him on Twitter.


2014 World Series: The real David versus Goliath


Anyone who has ever lived in Kansas City and taken an interest in major sports has been waiting for this day for a generation. Put it this way, it says a lot when the most successful team to come out of your city is an MLS franchise. The Royals will look to redress the balance when the World Series kicks off at Kaufmann Stadium later tonight in what is the team’s first appearance in the Fall Classic since winning it back in 1985.


Baseball has the smallest postseason of any of the four major US sports and fittingly the two Wild Card winners face off as the San Francisco Giants and those aforementioned Royals take part in the second ever all-Wild Card World Series.

Every few years there is a team that comes along and sweeps everyone off their feet so much so that you can imagine fans of the Baltimore Orioles, Los Angeles Angels and Oakland Athletics all wholeheartedly rooting for the Royals in this season’s World Series. Hell you can imagine that the whole world outside of San Francisco praying for anything other than yet another Giants victory to make it three in five for the Californians.

How can the Royals please the world at large, though?


San Francisco Giants v Kansas City Royals – World Series Betting Odds:

Giants to win series: -105

Royals to win series: -115

(All odds provided by are accurate as of today and subject to change)


First and foremost they’ve got to ride that bullpen. Every team on a hot streak has its trademark and for all their other potent tools the Royals are reliant on the group of guys that take over in the sixth inning thus making the starting pitcher role an easier job than in any ballpark. Kelvin Herrera [1.41 ERA in regular season], Wade Davis [1.00 ERA], and Greg Holland [1.44 ERA] have been almost lights out throughout the playoffs and if you’re betting in-play and the Royals get to the sixth inning in the lead…you know what to do.

In addition to the bullet-proof pen, the Royals kept making downright ridiculous plays on the defensive side of the ball in the ALDS and ALCS, and the huge outfield at Kaufmann Stadium means the opening two games of the series could see even more of those plays.


How hard a task is it? Very. Consider this: Game 1 starter Madison Bumgarner has never lost a playoff start away from AT&T Park and has given up two earned runs on four wins from as many starts. Streaks are meant to broken though, right? Not this time.

The Giants have their own miracle making bullpen to boot that is led by closer Santiago Casilla [0.00 ERA in the postseason] and includes Jeremy Affeldt, Javier Lopez, and Yusmeiro Petit, who have all posted that same blank ERA that Casilla boasts. Sergio Romo tops it off with a 1.93 ERA and coach Bruce Bochy can be confident that he has a solution to just about any problem.


Even though the Royals are riding an almighty wave of momentum into the postseason it’s hard to see past a Giants win in six games and a third World Series pennant in five years for Buchy’s charges. Never say never though.


Betting Instinct tip Giants to win in six is +450 with


b134431a32f9f238467cd75e1b0b3454 JAMIE HINKS is an experienced content writer who has focused on the gambling industry   and technology, and has an obsession with football and all US sports. Follow Jamie  on Twitter.

MLB: Jump on the Milwaukee Brewers’ fast start whilst you still can

13496954265_9a7202ff4b_z   Milwaukee, Wisconsin is just the kinda place where you could imagine them putting something beer in the water to make things feel a lot better. This baseball season, however, Brewers fans have been chugging down the beers and for once it hasn’t been solely to drown their collective sorrows. Through the opening month of the season the Brewers, who were unfancied in a stacked National League Central division, own the best record in all the Majors with an impressive 22 wins and 11 losses before Tuesday’s home stand against the Arizona Diamondbacks got underway.

National League Central – Outright Betting Odds:

St Louis Cardinals -141

Milwaukee Brewers +190

Cincinnati Reds +700

(All odds provided by are accurate as of today and subject to change)

The success has been built on the kind of big picture antics made famous by Billy Beane and the Michael Smith book Moneyball with a team that loves hitting just about as much as Beane loved his teams to get on base at the Oakland Athletics, leading one Sports Illustrated writer to dub it ‘Brewerball’. This being the case it’s highly unlikely that any sports bettors even considered the Brewers as post season candidates in the Spring given its 88-loss season last year. Should bettors be taking a look at those odds now though?

When it comes to winning games and notching up hits then ride the Brewers whilst you can. The team is just the fourth team to win 20 games in the first month since the advent of the Wild Card and two of those teams went on to win over 100 games and plough deep furrows into the post-season.

Pitching is another area where the team has excelled through a five man rotation led by aces Yovani Gallardo [2-1, 2.47 ERA] and Kyle Lohse [4-1, 2.72 ERA] that are more than holding their own against some of the best hitters in the game.

That’s all well and good but it’s worth taking an extreme note of caution when it comes to the team’s divisional record given that a large percentage of its games pit the club against the likes of reigning the NL champion St Louis Cardinals and two 2013 wild cards in the shape of the Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates.

The record so far doesn’t make particularly good reading given that eight of its 11 losses have come at the hands of teams in the NL Central and of the three series it has lost this season, two have come against direct divisional opponents [Cards and Reds].

Cardinals right-handed pitcher Shelby Miller has been a particular nemesis, the youngster limiting the explosive Brewers to just four runs over the two games he has pitched. Whilst the odds may be long on the Brewers to make the playoffs and tempt bettors, the divisional toughness will extinguish any hopes of an NL Central title or even a wild card spot.

That brings us to the coming three game set with the Yankees that will be the first chance for many to see the Brewers’ bats in action and the big stage combined with a poor start to May could have an adverse effect on the team’s chances.

A saving grace for the Brewers is that Gallardo gets the ball in game one of the three game set against the Yankees’ most consistent starter Masahiro Tanaka in what will be a low scoring encounter. Kyle Lohse then gets the nod in Saturday’s clash with CC Sabathia and it’s worth jumping on the Brewers in the first two games of the set thanks to the strength of the two starters on the mound.


Betting Instinct tip – Get on Milwaukee to beat the Yankees on Friday night. They’re +120 with


 JAMIE HINKSb134431a32f9f238467cd75e1b0b3454 (jamiehinks) is an experienced content writer who has focused on the gambling industry   and technology, and has an obsession with football and all US sports. You can follow him  on Twitter here and  on Google+ here.

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays take flight in AL East

Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista connects on another home run

Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista connects on another home run

Baseball, unlike many sports the world over, is not one where the first month’s form will tell bettors anything about where the World Series trophy ends up come October. Granted your season ending Tommy John surgery injuries will be knocking about and someone could throw a no-hitter then do nothing for the remaining months, but on the whole the first sixth of the season won’t say a lot.


One thing the first few weeks of the campaign has shown is that the American League [AL] East will be closer than it has been in a good decade and four of the combatants go head-to-head later tonight in what will be two tight series between the Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays, and New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox.


Baltimore Orioles @ Toronto Blue Jays Betting Odds

Orioles +102

Blue Jays -112

(All odds provided by are accurate as of today and subject to change)


Toronto is unique in that it is the only place in the whole of Canada that baseball fans can go out to the ball park and it is also alone in the fact that it is the city’s only ‘World’ champion in almost 50 years.

They don’t have the glitz or the pizzazz of Drake backing them up or the multi-million dollar signings that Toronto FC has brought to the table, though they are in a division that this year looks like it could be ripe for the taking.

Toronto’s bats have been heating up all season with Melky Cabrera held hitless in just one game so far this season and Jose Bautista tied for second place in all of baseball with six home runs. Baltimore is set to send Bud Norris to the mound for Thursday’s start and he has struggled against the top end of the Blue Jays order in the past with Jose Reyes [.375 avg in 16 ABs], Edwin Encarnarcion [.333 in 3 ABs] and Cabrera [.429 in 7 ABs, 3 RBIs] all excelling. Norris has two heavy losses on the road this season already and will run into trouble north of the border.


Norris pitches against Drew Hutchison once again after they duelled it out for a no decision in Baltimore on 12 April and the 24-year-old is still yet to rediscover the stuff that let him hold the Tampa Bay Rays scoreless over five innings on the way to his first win of the season.

The first time out between these two pitchers was decided in extra innings but expect this to be the polar opposite and the Blue Jays to come out on top in a slugfest.


New York Yankees @ Boston Red Sox Betting Odds:

Yankees +110

Red Sox -120

(All odds provided by are accurate as of today and subject to change)


Last season’s world champions play host to their fiercest rivals in the AL East’s other clash of the night and it’s fair to say that the residents of Bean Town are far from what they deem their best.

The Red Sox were three-and-a-half games behind the Yankees on Tuesday night and could be behind by as much as four-and-a-half by the time the two teams face off at Fenway Park on Thursday evening.


One of the problems the Sox have been finding already this season is that aside from John Lackey, the starting pitching has been an itch the club house is finding it incredibly hard to scratch.

New York has had a slightly better time of things when it comes to pitching apart from C.C. Sabathia, Thursday’s starter. The veteran slinger has had an extremely mixed season so far with at least two runs surrendered in each of his four games and his one start against the Red Sox so far ended up in a 4-2 loss.

Thursday will be another close run thing with nothing more than a couple of runs in it and the AL East looks like being the same crapshoot meaning long odds on the likes of the Blue Jays are well worth a punt.


Betting Instinct tip – With AL East wide open, the odds on the Blue Jays to win seem very generous at +700 with


b134431a32f9f238467cd75e1b0b3454 JAMIE HINKS (jamiehinks) is an experienced content writer who has focused on the gambling industry  and technology, and has an obsession with football and all US sports. You can follow him on Twitter here.