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AL East Beat March 27th: The 2018 Season Begins

With opening day just two days away, let’s look a team-by-team look at the American League East (odds courtesy of bovada.lv):

(You can discuss this on the BSL Board here.)

Baltimore Orioles

Odds to win World Series: 200/1

Win total over/under: 73

Last season: 75-87, fifth place

Manager: Buck Showalter, ninth season, 622-569

Projected lineup: 3B Tim Beckham, 2B Jonathan Schoop, SS Manny Machado, CF Adam Jones, 1B Chris Davis, LF Trey Mancini, RF Colby Rasmus or Craig Gentry, DH Pedro Alvarez or Danny Valencia, C Caleb Joseph.

Projected bench: C Chance Sisco, OF/1B Anthony Santander, Gentry/Rasmus, Valencia/Alvarez

Projected rotation: RHP Dylan Bundy, RHP Andrew Cashner, RHP Kevin Gausman, RHP Chris Tillman, RHP Alex Cobb

Projected bullpen: RHP Brad Brach (closer), RHP Darren O’Day, RHP Mychal Givens, LHP Richard Bleier, LHP Nestor Cortes Jr., RHP Pedro Arajuo, RHP Miguel Castro, RHP Mike Wright Jr.

Disabled list: DH Mark Trumbo (strained quad), RHP Gabriel Ynoa (stress reaction in shin), LHP Zach Britton (Achilles tendon surgery)

Prospects close to majors: INF Ryan Mountcastle, OF Cedric Mullins, OF Austin Hays, OF D.J. Stewart, LHP Tanner Scott, LHP Chris Lee

They’ll have a good season if: Cobb and Cashner prove to be quality additions to the rotation and Bundy and Gausman take steps forward.

They’ll have a bad season if: They have a rash of injuries because of depth is lacking throughout the roster.

X-factor: Will owner Peter Angelos give executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette the green light to trade pending free agents Machado, Jones, Brach and Britton if the Orioles fall from contention? And will Angelos opt bring back Duquette and Showalter, who are also on expiring contracts?

Scout’s take: “They need Davis and Trumbo to bounce back in a big way to have any chance of contending and the fact that both were hurt in spring training doesn’t give me a good feeling. They are going to need to score as many runs as they can to cover up for that pitching staff. I do like the idea of moving Machado to shortstop from third base, though, flip-flopping him with Beckham. He is a heckuva defensive player and their fielding was atrocious last year. They are better with Manny at short.”

 

Boston Red Sox

Odds to win World Series: 12/1

Win total over/under: 91.5

Last season: 93-69, first place; lost to the Houston Astros in ALDS

Manager: Alex Cora, first season

Projected lineup: RF Mookie Betts, LF Andrew Benintendi, 1B Hanley Ramirez, DH J.D. Martinez, SS Xander Bogaerts, 3B Rafael Devers, 2B Eduardo Nunez, C Christian Vazquez, CF Jackie Bradley Jr.

Projected bench: C Sandy Leon, C/1B/OF Blake Swihart, 1B Mitch Moreland, INF/OF Brock Holt.

Projected rotation: LHP Chris Sale, LHP David Price, RHP Rick Porcello, LHP Brian Johnson, RHP Hector Velazquez

Projected bullpen: RHP Craig Kimbrel (closer), RHP Matt Barnes, RHP Joe Kelly, RHP Carson Smith, RHP Heath Hembree, LHP Bobby Poyner, RHP Marcus Walden

Disabled list: 2B Dustin Pedroia (knee surgery), INF Marco Hernandez (shoulder surgery), LHP Drew Pomeranz (forearm tightness), LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (knee surgery) LHP Steven Wright (knee surgery), RHP Austin Maddox (shoulder inflammation), RHP Tyler Thornburg (thoracic outlet syndrome surgery).

Prospects close to majors: 1B/OF Sam Travis, 3B Michael Chavis

They’ll have a good season if: Martinez provides the much-needed power bat for the middle of the lineup and makes up for the production lost when David Ortiz retired following the 2016 season.

They’ll have a bad season if: Injury problems continue to plague the rotation, which has three members on the disabled list to begin the season.

X-factor: Price was limited to 11 starts last year because of an elbow injury and the Red Sox need him to regain his previous form and combine with Sale to give them one of the best 1-2 combinations in the game.

Scout’s take: “I like the Alex Cora hire a lot. He’s a sharp guy and he knows the obsessive nature of the media and fanbase from playing there. They really needed to bring in Martinez because they missed that game-breaking bat last year after David Ortiz retired. The big key for me is the starting pitching beyond Sale. Can Price and Pomeranz stay healthy? Can Porcello and Wright regain their 2016 form? There are a lot of ifs there. The bullpen is really good, but those guys have to have leads to protect.”

 

New York Yankees

Odds to win World Series: 6/1

Win total over/under: 94.5

Last season: 91-71, second place; defeated Minnesota Twins in AL wild card game and Cleveland Indians in ALDS; lost to Houston Astros in ALCS.

Manager: Aaron Boone, first season

Projected lineup: LF Brett Gardner, RF Aaron Judge, DH Giancarlo Stanton, C Gary Sanchez, SS Didi Gregorius, CF Aaron Hicks, 1B/2B Neil Walker, 3B Brandon Drury, 2B Tyler Wade or 1B Tyler Austin

Projected bench: C/1B Austin Romine, INF Ronald Torreyes, Austin/Wade

Projected rotation: RHP Luis Severino, RHP Masahiro Tanaka, LHP CC Sabathia, RHP Sonny Gray, LHP Jordan Montgomery

Projected bullpen: LHP Aroldis Chapman (closer), RHP David Robertson, RHP Dellin Betances, RHP Chad Green, RHP Tommy Kahnle, RHP Adam Warren, LHP Chasen Shreve, RHP Jonathan Holder

Disabled list: 1B Greg Bird (ankle surgery), OF Jacoby Ellsbury (strained oblique)

Prospects close to majors: 1B Mike Ford, 3B Miguel Andujar, INF Gleyber Torres, INF Thairo Estrada, RHP Domingo German, RHP Chance Adams

They’ll have a good season if: Stanton and Judge truly become the modern-day version of Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris.

They’ll have a bad season if: Stanton and Judge prove human rather than Ruthian and combine for 450 strikeouts.

X-factor: Sabathia is coming off a fine year but he turns 38 in July, has chronic knee problems and there is little starting pitching depth behind him on the organizational depth chart.

Scout’s take: Stanton is obviously the big addition, but I liked the smaller moves they made in spring training by signing Walker and trading for Drury. Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar are good prospects, but they need some more time at Class AAA. Plus, Walker and Drury put the bat on the ball consistently, which is going to be important because there is a lot of swing and miss in that lineup. I know Aaron Boone has never managed at any level or even coached but he’s a sharp guy and a great communicator. He’ll do well.”

 

Tampa Bay Rays

Odds to win World Series: 150/1

Win total over/under: 77.5

Last season: 80-82, third place

Manager: Kevin Cash, fourth season, 228-258

Projected lineup: LF Denard Span, 3B Matt Duffy, CF Kevin Kiermaier, RF Carlos Gomez, DH Brad Miller or Johnny Field, C Wilson Ramos, 1B C.J. Cron, SS Adeiny Hechavarria, 2B Joey Wendle or Daniel Robertson

Projected bench: C Jesus Sucre, OF Mallex Smith, Field/Miller/Robertson/Wendle

Projected rotation: RHP Chris Archer, LHP Blake Snell, RHP Nathan Eovaldi, RHP Jacob Faria

Projected bullpen: RHP Alex Colome (closer), RHP Sergio Romo, RHP Chaz Roe, LHP Jose Alvarado, RHP Jason Kittredge, RHP Yonny Chirinos, LHP Ryan Yarbrough, RHP Matt Andriese

Disabled list: RHP Jose De Leon (Tommy John surgery), RHP Brent Honeywell (Tommy John surgery)

Prospects close to majors: INF Christian Arroyo, RHP Willy Adames, OF/1B Jake Bauers, OF Justin Williams, LHP Anthony Banda

They’ll have a good season if: Archer bounces back from a subpar 2017 and contends for the Cy Young Award while anchoring the new-look look four-man rotation.

They’ll have a bad season if: The bullpen implodes from the heavy load it could conceivably carry with the Rays opting to go with only four starting pitchers.

X-factor: The Rays plan to use relievers to fill the gap every fifth day than a traditional No. 5 starter. Will it work? Time will tell.

Scout’s take: “They lost an awful lot of offense from last year and I don’t see how they are going to make it completely up. They are counting on a lot of unproven guys to come through and that’s asking a lot. I love their young pitching, though, and the creativity the organization is showing by going to a four-man rotation with a bullpen day on the fifth day. It’s something different and maybe they’ll be on to something. It’s a good year to experiment because I don’t see them contending.”

 

Toronto Blue Jays

Odds to win World Series: 30/1

Win total over/under: 81

Last season: 76-86, fourth place

Manager: John Gibbons, 11th season, 720-700

Projected lineup: LF Curtis Granderson/Steve Pearce, 2B Devon Travis, 3B Josh Donaldson, 1B Justin Smoak, C Russell Martin, DH Kendrys Morales, RF Randal Grichuk, CF Kevin Pillar, SS Aledmys Diaz

Projected bench: C Luke Maile, INF Danny Espinosa, INF Yangervis Solarte, Pearce/Granderson

Projected rotation: LHP J.A. Happ, RHP Aaron Sanchez, RHP Marco Estrada, RHP Marcus Stroman, LHP Jaime Garcia

Projected bullpen: RHP Roberto Osuna (closer), RHP Ryan Tepera, RHP Seung Hwan Oh, RHP Danny Barnes, LHP Aaron Loup, RHP John Axford, RHP Tyler Clippard

Disabled list: SS Troy Tulowitzki (bone spur on ankle)

Restricted list: LHP Thomas Pannone (suspended 80 games for testing positive for a PED)

Prospects close to majors: C Danny Jansen, INF Richard Urena, LHP Ryan Borucki, RHP Sean Reid-Foley

They’ll have a good season if: Sanchez stays healthy after being limited to eight starts last season because of blister issues and regains the form that enabled him to lead the AL in ERA in 2016.

They’ll have a bad season if: Sanchez’s blisters come back and the shoulder issue that hampered Stroman through most of spring training lingers throughout the year.

X-factor: The oft-injured Tulowitzki, who is making $20 million this season, is hurt yet again. The Blue Jays added depth in the offseason by trading with the St. Louis Cardinals for Diaz but Tulowitzki is one of the premier players in the game —- when healthy.

Scout’s take: “I have a hard time deciding what I think about this team. Part of me thinks they are going to be contenders but then part of me thinks they might be awful. I like their starting pitching for the most part, but I don’t like the bullpen beyond Osuna and Tepera and I worry about run support. They have some boppers in the lineup, but Russell Martin fell off a cliff last season, Curtis Granderson isn’t a leadoff hitter anymore and Troy Tulowitzki is hurt yet again. Not a good sign there with Tulo, that’s for sure.”

 

Perrotto’s predictions

1. Yankees 99-63

2. Red Sox 94-68

3. Rays 80-82

4. Blue Jays 75-87

5. Orioles 73-89

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John Perrotto

John Perrotto has been a professional sports writer since 1982 and has covered a multitude of sports, including MLB, NFL and college football and basketball. He has been a member of the Baseball Writers' Association since 1988, a Hall of Fame voter since 1997 and has covered 21 World Series and two Super Bowls. He is a graduate of Geneva College, the birthplace of college basketball, and lives in Beaver Falls, Pa., the hometown of Joe Willie Namath. He also writes The Perrotto Report (theperrottoreport.com), newsletters that concentrate on Major League Baseball and the Pittsburgh Pirates.

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