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Keeping up with the AL East, April 5-16

Keeping Up with the East, April 5-16

This is the first installment in a weekly feature following the performance of each AL East team besides the Orioles in the preceding week, then looking forward at what they’re facing in the week to come. Know thy enemy, after all. In this installment we will cover the season to-date.

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Standings:

Boston

6

3

.667

-

Tampa Bay

6

4

.600

0.5

Baltimore

5

4

.556

1.0

Toronto

5

5

.500

1.5

NY Yankees

3

6

.333

3.0

 

Boston Red Sox: So far, this team is looking pretty much like what you’d expect from an offensive powerhouse with a rotation full of backend starters playing in an extreme hitter’s park. So far the Red Sox have faced the Phillies, Yankees, and Nationals — a team fielding half of a AAA lineup, a team with almost no power, and a team mired in a horrifically bad start to the season — and allowed 50 runs in 89 innings. Only the Twins have allowed more runs per game in the American League. In the three games that the Sox have played in Fenway, they’ve allowed 21 runs in 27 innings. Luckily for them, their offense is still torrid enough that they’re slightly outscoring their opposition — but Baltimore goes into a four-game series in Fenway starting tonight looking to change that.

Tampa Bay: Tampa’s off to a hot start relative to their expectations, and second-year outfielder Kevin Kiermaier deserves a lot of the credit for that, sporting a 1.132 OPS through the first two weeks of the season. Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi — two guys the Rays plan on being in the rotation the entire season — have both pitched outstandingly in each of their first two starts, while emergency fill-ins Nate Karns and Erasmo Ramirez have had far rougher times in the Rays’ rotation. Drew Smyly’s rehab starts in the minors continue to go well and Alex Cobb is throwing harder off the mound as both try to come back from shoulder tendinitis, so other teams in the East — Orioles included — should take advantage of Ramirez and Karns at the back of that rotation while they can.

Toronto: The early story out of Toronto is the exceptional defensive play of 26-year-old Kevin Pillar in left field, the exceptional hitting of rookie Devon Travis at second base, and the amazing bullpen work of 20-year-olds Miguel Castro and Roberto Osuna, who have combined to pitch 10.1 innings of shutout relief, striking out 11 hitters between the two of them. This is covering for the early disappointments of Aaron Sanchez and Drew Hutchison, but the team has split its contests so far and, if the young players keep performing and the veterans stay healthy, is set up for a very competitive season.

New York: Woof. The Yankees should, by all rights, have one of the best defensive infields in baseball: Mark Teixiera, Stephen Drew, Didi Gregorius and Chase Headley are all top-15 defensive players at their positions, but the Yankees have looked absolutely lost in the infield over the first two weeks of the season — to the point that manager Joe Girardi is starting to give Alex Rodriguez time in the field. Combine this with generally fraught showings from Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia, and Nathan Eovaldi in the rotation, and the Yankees are a pitching and defense team that can’t pitch or play defense. This should get better over the course of the season — but if it doesn’t, they could find themselves with a losing record, instead of a merely disappointing one. At least Yankees fans can take comfort that Tex, A-Rod, and Brett Gardner — three of the longest-tenured Yankees — are having excellent starts to the season at the plate.

The Week Ahead

BOS: vs. BAL, 4/17-20; @ TB, 4/21-23; @ BAL 4/24-26

We’ll be seeing a lot of the Red Sox over the next week. No off-days for Boston.

TB: vs. NYY, 4/17-19; off 4/20; vs. BOS 4/21-23; vs TOR 4/24-26

If the Orioles matchup as well against the Red Sox as they should, Tampa could find themselves alone in first place by a game or two by the end of the week.

TOR: vs. ATL, 4/17-19; off 4/20; vs. BAL 4/21-23; @ TB 4/24-26

Toronto gets an improbably rough schedule over the next week with a three-game set against the hot Braves, followed by the O’s and Rays at the back end.

NYY: @ TB, 4/17-19; @ DET, 4/20-23; vs NYM, 4/24-26

Four games against Detroit’s lineup is not what the Yankees need right now, but it’s what they’re going to get. If their defense and pitching don’t show up in Detroit, they’ll remain in the AL East cellar.

 

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