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AL East Report – May 31

All things considered, the Toronto Blue Jays had a good week going 4-2 (should’ve been 5-1). Aside from the poor managerial decision in the second game of the doubleheader, the Blue Jays had a great week which saw fan favourite Alek Manoah debut.

That begs the question, what about the other teams in the division, what were the Rays, Red Sox and Yankees up to. Spoiler alert warning, Baltimore’s section won’t be more than a paragraph.

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Tampa Bay Rays

Firstly, I want to apologize that I basically spoke there in the standings into existence, sorry about that.

The Rays had another great week, finishing 4-1 with their only blemish against the Royals. They’ve now won 15 of their last 16 games. This in part is due to their fantastic pitching staff, starters and relievers alike. Furthermore, they’ve also benefited from the return of the first man Ji-Man Choi who in 48 plate appearances, has a slash line of .342/.479/1.084.

Glasnow continues to prove that he is an ace (except when he pitches against the Jays) owning a 2.57 ERA with nearly 100 strikeouts in 70 IP. They are also getting support from their other starters, including the 41-year-old Rich Hill who is sporting a 3.64 ERA with 58 Ks in 52 IP.

On May 21st, they made a trade with the Brewers packaging Buck and Tabler’s favourite shortstop, Willy Adames and Trevor Richards for pitchers J.P Feyereisen and Drew Rassmussen. Feyereisen has pitched 5 innings for the Rays, allowing 1 ER while striking out 5 and walking only 1. In comparison, he pitched 19.1 innings for the Brewers allowing 11 BB.

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As for Rassmussen, he is currently in the minor leagues, but the Rays drafted him in the first round of the 2017 draft. We all know how good their scouting department is, so expect Rassmussen to be a Blue Jays killer in a year or two. 

To replace their vacant shortstop position, they called up their number 7 prospect in Taylor Walls instead of the number one prospect in baseball, Wander Franco. So far, Walls has a slash line of .227/.346/.664. I’ll keep an eye on him in the upcoming weeks.

I said in my last AL East report that the Blue Jays had to have a winning week. After going 4-2, they are currently 6 games behind the Rays. In fact, the Blue Jays actually dropped half a game behind the Rays. 

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This upcoming week, they play in the Bronx for four games, one of which will have started while I write this. They then travel to Arlington to play the Rangers for three games. Usually I don’t include the next week as well, but they will be facing the Nationals for two games as well as the Orioles for three. The Rays will continue to win and will likely win the AL East, so don’t at me.

Boston Red Sox

The boys from Boston only played four games this week owning the record of 3-1. However, Jays fans can find solace in the fact that they have had the sixth easiest schedule in baseball. In comparison, the Jays have had the hardest thus far into the season and will continue to be until late June.

Bogaerts (.326/.387/.952) and Martinez (.328/.399/.986) continue to hit the ball well while Devers (.284/.354/.961) and Verdugo (.287/.345/.806) provide much-needed offence to round out the top of the order.

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One notable fact about Bogaerts is that he appears to have cooled off. Dating back to my first AL East blog, he had a slash line of .342/.420/1.025, which is quite a drop. Since the 17th of May, he has 8 hits in 38 plate appearances which is a .242 batting average. Furthermore, his OPS is below average in that time sporting a .679. It’s only 9 games, but it is something to take note of.

Lastly, we come to their pitching. To be more specific, we’ll look at the starting pitching. Boston has been healthy with their starters. However, they have no bonafide ace. The highest ERA for a starter is 3.55 by Martin Perez. Which is a solid clip to have if you’re a starter in the middle of the rotation. If we look at ERA+ which factors in how easy it is to hit a home run at Fenway, the highest is 122 (100 is average) also by Perez.

Let’s use Toronto as a comparison because after all, this is a Blue Jays blog site. Ryu, who according to a person I argued with on Twitter, is not an ace. Even still, he is producing an ERA+ of 163. Ray would rank 0.01 below Boston’s second-placed ERA+ at 112. 

It’s only a matter of time before the Red Sox drop off due to increased difficulty in the schedule as well as having no ace. In this upcoming week, they play the filthy Astros and the Bronx Bombers, so we may see a losing week here.

New York Yankees

They won one game while also losing five, including a sweeping at the hands of the Tigers.

They have a lot of talent, but cannot stay healthy. This season they have also been able to hit, with Judge being their only good hitter. Even then, Manoah absolutely bullied him into submission in his debut.

Although batting average isn’t the best stat to describe poor hitting, I think it’s fair in this case as there are only 5 batters hitting over .260. Stanton is one, but he’s on the IL. LeMahieu has struggled, hitting only .267 with an OPS under .700.  Only Glebar Torres, Judge and Torres have been consistent and only then, Judge is the only batter on the team hitting over .270.

It’s fair to say that the starting pitching is the glue holding the team to a respectable record. Gerrit Cole is one of the best pitchers in the MLB. Kluber was pitching well until he injured himself being terrified of Manoah and the human piece of filth whose name I won’t mention has an ERA of 3.06. He shouldn’t be allowed to play and neither should the player who most recently did it, but Manfred and the MLB are absolutely dumb.

They play both the Rays (4 games) and the Red Sox (3 games) this week meaning that the Jays can gain some games on the Yankees.

Baltimore Orioles

They are 2-20 since John Means pitched his no-hitter that should have been a perfect game. Again, there isn’t much to say other than they’re bad. They’ve had the second hardest schedule, but the Jays have had the hardest and are still above .500. Oriole fans better pray that the farm is as good as Pipeline believes it is.

Conclusion

The Jays play the 24-28 Marlins this Tuesday and Wednesday and the 28-24 Astros from Friday on to Sunday. The bullpen should be fully rested and with Manoah pitching on Wednesday,  they have a real chance to gain ground on the Yankees.

I think it’s important to have a winning record this week, with a sweep of the Marlins and taking at least a game from the Houston Trashcans. If they finish 3-2, I can see them overtaking the Yankees and gaining possibly a game or two on the Red Sox.

Furthermore, their losing streak ended the day after the Oilers got eliminated. This is why they had the losing streak and we live in a simulation.

As always, follow me on Twitter @Brennan_L_D as I’m under 50 away from 169.