Major League Baseball is now only 14 days away from Opening Day as the preview series hits its second of six divisions. The AL East rivals the NL East for the title of best division in baseball as it features the New York Yankees, Toronto Bleu Jays and Tampa Bay Rays at the top, the upstart Baltimore Orioles in the middle and the big question mark that is the Boston Red Sox. This division has a history of beating each other up and I do not expect that to change this season.
Boston Red Sox – projected record 75-87 – 5th AL East
This team is very hard to get a grasp on. The lineup has extreme boom or bust potential but will be hurt severely by Xander Bogarts’ departure to San Diego. Rafael Devers, Justin Turner and Alex Verdugo will try to hold it down offensively and hope for the return of Trevor Story at some point this season. The Sox will also look for the immediate breakthrough of high prospect Triston Casas and new international signing Masataka Yoshida. The rotation features 37-year-old Corey Kluber, 34-year-old Chris Sale and 34-year-old James Paxton. The bullpen is old as well and currently has Kenley Jansen as its closer with no other notable names around him. This Boston team has the potential to win a ton of games but I just do not see it staying consistent, especially on the mound.
Baltimore Orioles – projected record 81-81 – 4th AL East
The young Orioles are going to be extremely fun to watch this season. The projected opening day lineup has an average of just under 27 year old and its oldest starter being Adam Frazier at just over 31. James McCann will go down as a truly underrated signing as he will be invaluable as a mentor to Adley Rutschman. The pitching staff is the big question mark for Baltimore as the O’s look for a bounce-back season from Kyle Gibson and solid seasons from Cole Irvin and Deal Kremer. Youngster Grayson Rodriguez will also likely get his shot in the rotation. The bullpen enters the season in the top-half of the league and feature flame-throwing Felix Bautista, Mychal Givens and more young players with little MLB service time. The Orioles are a team to keep an eye on this season in terms of youth development at the highest level.
Tampa Bay Rays – projected record 94-68 – 3rd AL East
Hitting has never been Tampa’s bread and butter but its lineup looks solid at the top. Tandy Diaz, Wander Franco, Randy Arozarena and Brandon Lowe are a solid top four. For some reason you can always bank on one or two random hitters on the Rays to have career years out of no where as well. Tampa’s pitching remains amazinf as its rotation features Shane McClanahan, Drew Rasmussen and Tyler Glasnow while its bullpen remains solid with Pete Fairpains, JasoN Adam, Jalen Beeks and Colin Poche. Jeffery Springs, Zach Efflin and Luis Patino add depth to an already stacked pitching staff that will once again carry this Rays team.
New York Yankees – projected record 96-66 – 2nd AL East
The season has not even started yet the Yankees are already extremely injured. Pitchers Frankie Montas, Carlos Rodon, Scott Effross, Tommy Kahnle and Lou Trivino all hold moderate to severe injuries that could hold them out well into the regular season and beyond. New York will be able to compensate on the hill with Gerrit Cole, Luis Severino, Domingo German and Nestor Cortes in the rotation while Clay Holmes, Jonathan Loaisiga and Wandy Peralta will hold down the bullpen. As for its lineup, the Yanks still feature a much-richer Aaron Judge, Anthony Rizzo, Giancarlo Stanton and Harrison Bader. New York still remains dangerous but need to get, then stay healthy to win it all this season.
Toronto Blue Jays – projected record 99-63 – 1st AL East
The Blue Jays are absolutely stacked and aren’t getting enough hype for the roster it has. Toronto’s lineup is so deep that Matt Chapman is its six-hole hitter. Geroge Springer, Bo Bichette, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and Alejandro Kirk can compete with any other lineup in baseball. The addition of the bats of Brandon Belt and Dalton Varsho along with the glove of Kevin Kiermaier in center field have all flown under the radar. Toronto’s rotation is downright filthy. Headlined by Alek Manoah, the group also consists of Kevin Gausman, Jose Berrios, Chris BAssitt, Yusei Kikuchi and Hyun Jin Ryu. The bullpen is solid as well with closer Jordan Romano, Yimi Garcia, Anthony Bass, Erik Swanson and the eventual addition of Chad Green following Tommy John surgery. I see no major weaknesses on the Toronto team, making it one of the most dangerous sin the league.
|Toronto Blue Jays||99||63||—||YES – AL #2|
|New York Yankees||96||66||3.0||YES – AL #4|
|Tampa Bay Rays||94||68||5.0||YES – AL #6|
|Boston Red Sox||75||87||24.0||NO|