AL East is substandard and lacking star power
The American League East is terrible. While it is not likely, there is an actual chance that a team with a losing record could win the crown come the ed of September. Of the five teams in the division, none are particularly strong on the mound while the Toronto Blue Jays are the only real offensive power.
Going into Monday’s action, the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays lead the East with a 26-25 mark. New York began the season hot but is cratering back to Earth over the past couple of weeks, and just lost three out of four to the Oakland Athletics this weekend. Tampa Bay has an anemic offense with 192 runs, only better than the Chicago White Sox and Seattle Mariners in the American League.
When looking at the East, it is hard to see which team is suddenly going to get on a long winning streak and pull away. The Red Sox have the worst pitching in the junior circuit, featuring not one true ace and a bunch of potential gas cans in the bullpen. Toronto was supposed to have an ace in Marcus Stroman, but unfortunately watched as the young phenom tore his ACL in spring training. Without Stroman, the Blue Jays have a rudderless rotation led by the aging Mark Buehrle and R.A. Dickey.
Many believed the Baltimore Orioles would repeat as division champs when the season began, but they have a bevy of issues to contend with. The pitching and hitting have both been mediocre, with the lineup feeling the losses of Nick Markakis and last year’s American League home run king, Nelson Cruz. The rotation didn’t sustain any departures of note but needed an injection of talent. Instead, Buck Showalter’s group is relying on the duo of Chris Tillman and Ubaldo Jimenez to get things squared away.
This version of the East is something foreign for most baseball watchers under the age of 30. For years, it was Boston and New York, slugging it out every campaign in a battle of can you top this? Now, both teams have massive holes and appear destined to win between 75-83 games. What was once the best rivalry in baseball by a country mile has been reduced to bad baseball in cities that are used to much better.
While all five teams in this division are hardly serious contenders, the intrigue will be high through the final four months of the regular season. It stands to reason the race will be close throughout, with the Red Sox currently sitting in last place and only four games out of first.
The trade deadline could prove the ultimate pendulum-swing, with one team emerging as a favorite. Until then, don’t expect much separation.