With each team in the division now nine full games in to their season, it seems like the right time to see how their seasons are unfolding, thusfar. The standings as of this morning:
Baltimore Orioles - 5-4
New York Yankees – 5-4
Toronto Blue Jays - 5-4
Boston Red Sox - 4-5
Tampa Bay Rays - 4-5
Baltimore Orioles – After getting off to a lightning-hot 3-0 start, the Orioles have fallen back to the pack by going 2-4 in their last six games, although in fairness, three of those losses came at the hands of the Yankees. Even without that disclaimer, there is a lot to like about what’s going on in Baltimore, and it starts with their pitching. As Peter Schmuck notes, the Orioles have gone 5-1 in games that Jake Arrieta, Tommy Hunter and Jason Hammel have started, which has to give hope to fans that their season might not be as awful as predicted. Once Tsuyoshi Wada satisfies manager Buck Schowalter that he has the stamina for an MLB game, he should improve the rotation even more. That should happen within the next 10 days, barring any setbacks for Wada. The offense has been led so far by Adam Jones, who continues to add to his superstar-in-the-making resume’ with 3 home runs and a .343 average early in the season. There’s been a lot Ks for the offense and limited walks, especially if you eliminate Nick Markakisis’ six BBs so far. If they can improve on those numbers, it will go a long way to helping them stay in contention longer than expected.
Boston Red Sox – I haven’t seen Buster Olney come out and apologize for his commentary of the Sox bullpen after game 1. I suppose he may have, and I just missed it, but let me state for the record: you were wrong, Buster. Over their last six games, Alfredo Aceves has picked up four Ks and two saves without allowing a hit, walk, or run. Frankline Morales has yet to give up a run this season, Vincente Padilla (I was amazed to find out he was still in the league) has performed far beyond any expectations, and Scott Atchison has provided Bobby Valentine with another go-to guy to get to Aceves on the back end. Of course, Bobby Valentine could destroy this team at any moment. His most recent moment of insanity came yesterday when he seemed to call in to question Kevin Youkilis‘ dedication. If the Sox do anything this season, it might just be out of the spite they feel for their manager.
New York Yankees – The Yankees are a bit hard to judge at the moment. If you remove their three-game sweep of the Orioles, the Yankees are only 2-4. Of course, those two wins came against the Albert Pujols Angels, so that may prove to be the turning point for them. There’s a lot to like about this team, providing that they can stay healthy, but we should know more about them at weeks’ end, when they meet up with the Redsox for the first time.
Tampa Bay Rays- Joe Maddon seemed to have the Rays locked in early this season, until they showed up at Fenway Park on Friday. In the first three games of their four game set, Rays starters have sported a 8.79 ERA, and their bullpen has been even worse, giving up 17 runs in 9.67 innings (16.44 ERA.) The bright spot for the bullpen this weekend came in Sunday’s game, where they shut the Sox offense down for three innings in relief of Matt Moore. I continue to expect good things from this club going forward, and once they get out of Beantown, it should be safe to assume they’ll get right back on track.
Toronto Blue Jays – The Blue Jays find themselves right where they might expect to at this point of the season. They took two out of three from the Sox to begin last week, before dropping two out of three to the Orioles this past weekend. Kyle Drabek has been outstanding so far this season, posting a 2-0 record to go with his sterling 1.42 ERA. The one area of concern for the Jays early in the season might be their bullpen, which has three blown saves. Two of those blown saves came in games that Hector Alvarez was in line to grab a victory. His record remains 0-0, but he has continued to impress.
Questions? Comments? Criticisms?