This is a weekly Monday feature where I’ll look at things that are happening around the AL East, and baseball in general.
The Jays didn’t make up much ground in the AL East last week, but the Wild Card is certainly in sight.
American League East
New York Yankees 29-18 (0GB) +78 run differential
Are the Yankees slowing down yet? They went 4-2 this week with series wins over Oakland and Kansas City, but are 5-5 over their last 10 games. They still boast the best offence in the American League, scoring 5.40 runs per game on average, but last week it seemed their bats were a little cooler than usual. They only scored more than four runs once, and relied on strong starting pitching to edge out the Royals and A’s, which hasn’t been the case so far this season. Over the next couple weeks, the Yankees will face Baltimore, Toronto, Boston, and Baltimore again, a stretch that will go a long way in determining if they are actually the team to beat in the AL East right now.
Boston Red Sox 27-22 (3.0 GB) +26 run differential
The reason I’m skeptical about the Yankees actually being the team to beat in the AL East is the Boston Red Sox, who are very good, despite what their somewhat underwhelming record suggests. Last week, I noted that the Sox’s offence wasn’t as good as you’d expect and their starting pitching had been shaky outside of Chris Sale. But this past week, Boston looked a lot more like the team that’s expected to run away with the division.
They went 5-1, sweeping the shit out of the Texas Rangers and winning a series against the Seattle Mariners. Now, is that because Boston is actually figuring it out, or is it just those two teams being bad? Probably more the latter than the former. Sam Dyson crapped his pants in one game, allowing the Sox to score seven runs in one inning, then against Seattle Brian Johnson tossed a complete game shutout. Soooooo yeaaaaaah, I’m not sure I’m ready to say the Sox are alive yet, but I’m sure it’ll happen eventually.
Besides, they’re getting David Price back right away, which is obviously going to be a massive boost to their rotation. With Sale, Price, and Eduardo Rodriguez pitching well, the Sox are in a much more prime position to go on a run. Rick Porcello has to figure it out, though. He’s got a 4.21 ERA on the season and allowed 11 hits in back-to-back games last week.
Baltimore Orioles 25-23 (4.5 GB) -7 run differential
Boston heating up and New York continuing to smash their way to wins is frustrating as hell, but watching the Orioles go into an absolute free fall is a beautiful sight. After beating the Jays last weekend, the O’s dropped all six games they played this week. They got spanked 14-7 by the Twins (???) and then forgot how to hit, scoring just nine runs over their next five games.
Chris Davis has two hits in his last 22 at bats, Mark Trumbo is four for his last 21, and Adam Jones has been out of the lineup with a concussion. Their pitching is ‘meh’ like you’d expect, but their offence hasn’t been able to compensate, and if the Or’s aren’t scoring, they aren’t winning. They’re playing New York and Boston this week, and if the O’s continue this poor play, they could be at the bottom of the division before they know it.
Chris Davis, The Albatross, strikes out looking again. Duquette strikes again— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) May 27, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays 27-26 (5.0 GB) +26 run differential
The Rays have underlying numbers that suggest they’re ready to break out, but it hasn’t happened yet. They continue to tread water despite having a very solid run differential. Last week, they went 4-3, splitting a four-game series with the Angels and edging out the weirdly hot Minnesota Twins. This team oddly reminds me of the 2015 Blue Jays, in a way. I feel like they’re poised to go on a run, but their pitching just doesn’t seem to want to let it happen.
Their starting pitching has been solid, but their bullpen leaves a lot to be desired. The big driving force behind this team is their ability to hit for power. Over the past week, the Rays hit 11 homers, led by Logan Morrison and Steven Souza clubbing three of their own. Also, speaking of Souza, this happened…
Rays Steve Souza with an absolutely epic misjudgement of a flyball, dive misses by 10 feet pic.twitter.com/z0dILsa3qe— CJ Fogler (@cjzer0) May 27, 2017
@statcast can you we get a breakdown on my play tonight?— Steven Souza Jr. (@SouzaJr) May 27, 2017
Toronto Blue Jays 23-27 (7.5 GB) -10 run differential
The Jays had a big week, going 4-1 thanks to a mini sweep of the Milwaukee Brewers and a series win over Texas. Josh Donaldson and Troy Tulowitzki returned to the lineup last week, which is maaaaaassive, considering the team was already finding its stride with them on the DL. This week, we’ll be getting J.A. Happ back, which is also massive. The schedule isn’t getting any easier for the Jays, but they’ve managed to stay above water through their injuries.
Josh Donaldson showering Gibby with his seeds pic.twitter.com/6KsPWaccbo— OFF ROUTE (@onlinepresent) May 29, 2017
Boston Red Sox (+1.5 GU)
Baltimore Orioles 25-23 (0 GB)
Cleveland 25-23 (0 GB)
Tampa Bay Rays 27-26 (0.5 GB)
Los Angeles Angels 26-27 (1.5 GB)
Texas Rangers 25-26 (1.5 GB)
Chicago White Sox 23-26 (2.5 GB)
Detroit Tigers 23-27 (3.0 GB)
Toronto Blue Jays 23-27 (3.0 GB)
Oakland Athletics 22-27 (3.5 GB)
Seattle Mariners 22-29 (4.5 GB)
Kansas City Royals 21-28 (4.5 GB)
The Jays didn’t make up much ground in the AL East last week because, unfortunately, pretty much everyone in the division is good, and it’s going to be difficult for all of them to get cold at the same time. But the Wild Card? The Jays are now only three games back. The key is going to be climbing over Baltimore and Tampa Bay in the division, which is certainly doable.
Here’s something interesting. The Colorado Rockies are killing it right now. As always, they’re getting offence from top to bottom, but for the first time, like, ever, they’re getting great pitching. The Rockies’ starters, according to Baseball Reference, have been worth 5.5 wins above replacement so far this season, far and away the most of any team in baseball. Greg Holland also appears to be the early runner for best offseason signing, as the former Royals closer has only allowed three earned runs in 19 2/3 innings so far.
On the other side of that spectrum is the San Diego Padres. They’re so bad that they’re offering a promotion in which you buy a pass to five wins. Not five games. Five wins. Like, you get to keep going until they win five games. And at the rate they’re going, you could end up going to like 20 games before that happens. This reminds me of the Blue Jays season pass thing, where you could roll in and get tickets to a game in the 500s if it wasn’t sold out.