The division standings widened this week as the Orioles and Rays went in distinctly different directions. The Yankees slipped from the top slot. The Red Sox kept pace at two games back. The Blue Jays stayed solidly in the hunt.
Baltimore 20-15 –
New York 19-17 1.5
Boston 19-18 2.0
Toronto 18-20 3.5
Tampa Bay 16-22 5.5
Weekly record (5-1):
Tue, 5/6 @TB W 5-3 O’Day (1-0)
Wed, 5/7 @TB W 4-3 Webb (1-0)
Thu, 5/8 @TB W 3-1 Jimenez (2-4)
Fri, 5/9 Hou W 4-3 Chen (4-2)
Sat, 5/10 Hou W 5-4 Webb (2-0)
Sun, 5/11 Hou L 2-5 Tillman (3-2)
Stars of the week:
Steve Pearce – .316/.435/.789/1.224, 3 HRs, 6 runs, 4 RBI
Adam Jones – .280/.269/.640/.909, 3 HRs, 4 runs, 4 RBI
Optioned Brad Brach to Triple-A Norfolk Tides.
Recalled T.J. McFarland from Norfolk.
Optioned Jemile Weeks to Norfolk.
Selected contract of Caleb Joseph from Norfolk.
Sent Francisco Peguero on rehab assignment to Norfolk.
Sent Chris Davis on rehab assignment to Double-A Bowie Baysox.
Placed Matt Wieters on 15-day DL (elbow).
Activated Chris Davis from 15-day DL.
Matt Wieters saw Dr. James Andrews this week due to an injury that prevents him from throwing.
Mon, 5/12 Det 7:05p MASN, MLB.TV
Tue, 5/13 Det 7:05p MASN, MLBN, MLB.TV
Wed, 5/14 Det 12:35p MASN 2, MLBN, MLB.TV
Thu, 5/15 @KC 8:10p MASN, MLB.TV
Fri, 5/16 @KC 8:10p MASN 2, MLB.TV
Sat, 5/17 @KC 7:10p MASN 2, MLBN, MLB.TV
Sun, 5/18 @KC 2:10p MASN 2, MLB.TV
Weekly record (3-3)
Mon, 5/5 @LAA L 1-4 Kelley (0-2)
Tue, 5/6 @LAA W 4-3 Kelley (1-2)
Wed, 5/7 @LAA W 9-2 Nuno (1-0)
Fri, 5/9 @Mil W 5-3 Tanaka (5-0)
Sat, 5/10 @Mil L 4-5 Aceves (0-1)
Sun, 5/11 @Mil L5-6 Warren (1-2)
Stars of the week:
Mark Teixeira – .261/.346/.565/.911, 2 HRs, 5 runs, 6 RBI
Yangervis Solarte – .444/.429/.667/1.095, HR, 8 hits, 6 RBI
Activated Michael Pineda & placed him on 15-day DL (shoulder)
Activated Brendan Ryan from 15-day DL
Placed CC Sabathia on 15-day DL (knee)
Recalled Matt Daley from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders
Three members of the of the Yankees’ opening day rotation are on the DL.
Mon, 5/12 NYM 7:05p YES, MLB.TV
Tue, 5/13 NYM 7:05p MY9, MLBN, MLB.TV
Wed, 5/14 @NYM 7:10p MY9, ESPN, MLB.TV
Thu, 5/15 @NYM 7:10p YES, MLBN, MLB.TV
Fri, 5/16 Pit 7:05p YES, MLBN, MLB.TV
Sat, 5/17 Pit 4:05p YES, FS1, MLB.TV
Sun, 5/18 Pit 1:05p YES, MLBN, MLB.TV
Weekly record (4-1):
Tue, 5/6 Cin W 4-3 Breslow (1-0)
Wed, 5/7 Cin W 4-3 Breslow (2-0)
Fri, 5/9 Tex L 0-8 Buchholz (2-3)
Sat, 5/10 Tex W 8-3 Lester (4-4)
Sun, 5/11 Tex W 5-2 Lackey (5-2)
Stars of the week:
David Ortiz – .421/.522/.684/1.206, HR, 4 runs, 8 hits
Dustin Pedroia – .381/.480/.667/1.147, HR, 8 hits, 5 runs
Shane Victorino – .300/.318/.300/.618, 6 hits, 5 RBI, SB
Dustin Pedroia is establishing himself as a legitimate leadoff hitter.
Tue, 5/13 @Min 8:10p NESN, MLB.TV
Wed, 5/14 @Min 8:10p NESN, MLB.TV
Thu, 5/15 @Min 1:10p NESN, MLB.TV
Fri, 5/16 Det 7:10p NESN, MLBN, MLB.TV
Sat, 5/17 Det 7:10p NESN, MLBN, MLB.TV
Sun, 5/18 Det 8:05p ESPN, MLB.TV
Weekly record (4-3)
Mon, 5/5 @Phi W 3-0 Happ (1-0)
Tue, 5/6 @ Phi W 6-5 Stroman (1-0)
Wed, 5/7 Phi W 10-0 Buehrle (6-1)
Thu, 5/8 Phi W 12-6 Dickey (3-3)
Fri, 5/9 LAA L 3-4 Cecil (0-3)
Sat, 5/10 LAA L 3-5 Happ (1-1)
Sun, 5/11 LAA L 3-9 Hutchison (1-3)
Stars of the week:
Edwin Encarnacion – .321/.345/.893/1.238, 4 HR, 10 RBI, 5 runs
Jose Reyes – .280/.406/.600/1.006, 10 runs, 2 HRs, 4 SBs
Sent Casey Janssen on rehab to Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats.
Activated Adam Lind from 15-day DL.
Optioned Chad Jenkins to Triple-A Buffalo Bisons.
Designated Chris Getz for assignment.
Activated Casey Janssen from 15-day DL
Mon, 5/12 LAA 7:07p SNET, MLB.TV
Tue, 5/13 Cle 7:07p SNET, MLB.TV
Wed, 5/14 Cle 7:07p SNET, MLB.TV
Thu, 5/15 Cle 7:07p SNET, MLBN, MLB.TV
Fri, 5/16 @Tex 8:05p SNET-1, MLB.TV
Sat, 5/17 @Tex 8:05p SNET, MLB.TV
Sun, 5/18 @Tex 3:05p SNET, MLB.TV
Tamps Bay Rays
Weekly record (1-5)
Tue, 5/6 Bal L 3-5 Peralta (1-2)
Wed, 5/7 Bal L 3-4 Gomes (2-2)
Thu, 5/8 Bal L 1-3 Price (3-3)
Fri, 5/9 Cle L 3-6 Peralta (1-3)
Sat, 5/10 Cle W 7-1 Bedard (2-1)
Sun, 5/11 Cle L 5-6 Archer (2-2)
Stars of the week:
David DeJesus – .429/.455/.714/1.169, 9 hits, HR, 4 RBI
Evan Longoria – .318/.375/.500,.875, 4 runs, HR, 4 RBI
Optioned Nate Karns to Triple-A Durham Bulls
Recalled Brad Boxberger from Durham Bulls
Released Heath Bell
Jays on the hook with Heath Bell’s contract for three more years.
Mon, 5/12 @Sea 10:10p MLB.TV
Tue, 5/13 @Sea 10:10p Sun Sports, MLB.TV
Wed, 5/14 @Sea 3:40p Sun Sports, MLB.TV
Thu, 5/15 @LAA 10:05p Sun Sports, MLB.TV
Fri, 5/16 @LAA 10:05p Sun Sports, MLB.TV
Sat, 5/17 @LAA 9:05p Sun Sports, MLB.TV
Sun, 5/18 @LAA 3:35p Sun Sports, MLB.TV
FanSided MLB writers answer your questions about the division (Tweet your questions to @29sonski).
Which team has the most upside in the AL East Division and why?
It is a tough pick between the Red Sox and the Rays, but I am going to have to choose the Rays. Their pitching staff has not lived up to expectations this year, and that is because of the disappointing performances of David Price, Jake Odorizzi, and Chris Archer. However, those three guys are all going to be good pitchers down the line, and the returns of Alex Cobb and Jeremy Hellickson from injury will give the Rays a scary rotation once again. The offense has also not lived up to expectations, but they have the chance to be very good if they can find consistency.
Ben Zobrist, Evan Longoria, and Wil Myers give the Rays a nice trio of star players, but where the lineup really stands out is the fact that they have quality hitters 1-9. There is not a weak spot in the lineup, and each hitter is going to be a tough out. They have struggled this year to score runs, but I believe that that is going to get fixed moving forward — they have too many quality hitters not to score runs. The bullpen has also been inconsistent, but that is in a large part due to starters not throwing enough innings, and that should be fixed moving forward, especially when Cobb and Hellickson return. Overall this Rays team still has the potential to make a deep run in the playoffs, whether than can live up to that potential remains to be seen.
The team in the AL East with the most upside is the Boston Red Sox. For one, they are the defending World Series champions. The heart of a champion doesn’t die easily. For the Red Sox to be out of it, the regular season will have to be over and they will have to be mathematically eliminated. Sure the loss of Ellsbury is going to hurt, but Boston, unlike the other teams in the division, has the perfect combination of farm system depth, quality Major League roster players, and money to spend.
The Yankees are banged up and the farm system doesn’t have Major League-ready players. Tampa has their hands tied by finances and injuries. Baltimore won’t spend money, nor do they have any elite prospects outside of Bundy to deal, and he’s recovering from injury, which lowers his value. The Blue Jays are … well, the Blue Jays.
Before this week I was firmly in the Orioles camp as team with most upside. It’s more tenuous than before but I’ll stay put. Their pitching, which was thought to be their Achilles heel, has performed better that expected. That’s my main reason for optimism. The next is an evident synergy that the team has shown. They pick each other up. They play excellent defense and they win, or lose, as a team.
With the acquisition of Nelson Cruz, the return to health of Manny Machado, the emergence of Jonathan Schoop and with Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy as potential rotation additions later this season, they seem poised to stay out in front of the pack. The injury to Matt Wieters could prove significant however. The two-time All Star and two-time Gold Glove winner is a significant component of the team’s success. If he is lost to long-term recovery, or limited to a designated hitter role, the Orioles have a huge gap in their lineup.
If this team avoids devastating injury and the pitching continues to perform, they may not need a trade deadline acquisition to get them into the postseason.
The Blue Jays recently reeled off five straight wins – three on the road – against the Pirates and Phillies by a combined score of 38-13. The team is hovering around .500, yet remains squarely in the hunt for the AL East title, even as a clear separation has emerged from top to bottom in the division. Are the Jays best defined by their hot streak, by their record to date, or somewhere in between?
I think “somewhere in between.” Last season, the Jays saw a win streak of 11 games in early June after Jose Reyes went down. That brought the team back to respectability, but it proved to be a fluke. This streak is different, especially coming on the road. This was the kind of streak Jays fans will see with this team: rattle off some wins, rattle off some loses.
The biggest difference so far has been their record vs. AL East, though it’s early. In 2013, they were: 30-46 against the division; in 2014 they’re 7-9, which is a 34-42 pace. It doesn’t seem like much, but at no point last season were the Jays close to .500 against their division rivals (mostly because of 5-14 record vs. New York, including a 1-12 start).
The rotation seems to be the most convenient target of the team’s critics. Even Toronto fans claim GM Alex Anthopoulos didn’t do enough during the hot stove session to improve the Jay’s starting pitching. With roughly one quarter the 2014 season in the books, are these charges holding up?
Ironically, it’s the starting pitching that has been a slight surprise for the better. Although they’re not going deep into games, and they’re giving up runs, it’s not to the extent of last season. Drew Hutchison has been a stabilizing force and Mark Buehrle is pitching like he did in his mid-20s.
The one criticism that has held up is at second base. Maicier Izturis was playing much better than expected, then was lost for the year (LCL tear in left knee April 14). His initial replacement, Ryan Goins, has been as expected with the bat (.150/.203/.217/.420 in 24 games) and was shipped back to Triple-A Buffalo. Now it’s Chris Getz’ turn. There are cries for Stephen Drew like there were cries for Omar Infante. The Jays most likely aren’t signing anybody, certainly not Drew. So this should be a season-long problem.
The Jays haven’t been immune to injury. In addition to Izturis, Jose Reyes was injured opening day. Adam Lind also spent time on the disabled list. J.A. Happ is back after being out for a long stretch to start the season, and Casey Janssen, out since spring training, is expected back soon. With limited exception, the team is healthy and intact now. Do they legitimately match up with the rest of the division?
I don’t feel they do starting pitching wise, but so far I’m being proven wrong. Honestly, if the bullpen doesn’t blow seven games, the Jays are on top of the division standings right now. So the player they’ve missed most with all of the injuries has been Casey Janssen, their closer. Janssen has only blown five saves in the last two years combined. While he won’t blow anybody away with his stuff, he’s been the most consistent arm out of the Toronto bullpen during the last five years.
This lineup can hit with any of them. When they’re on, like they were during this win streak, they’re better than Boston and Baltimore, two of the best lineups in the AL East. So if the rotation gives them quality starts, the Jays should prevail with that offense.
At this point, how do you grade the gangbuster trade with the Marlins of a year ago? Are the Blue Jays better off for having made the deal with Miami?
I’ll give it a “B.” I still say the Jays win that deal, even if Josh Johnson didn’t pan out. The Jays acquired a good amount of payroll for only one more win than in 2012. That being said, Reyes is still the best player out of that deal and Buehrle will be the second. Not one player that the Marlins acquired has been able to stand out or will be as productive as Reyes.
Henderson Alvarez had the no-hitter, but it was against a barren Detroit line-up (no Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder had one at bat). Alvarez will always be a back of the rotation guy, which is more than I can say for Justin Nicolino. Jake Marisnick will most likely be a fourth outfielder as he’s got a lengthy swing that will get exposed. Adeiny Hechavarria has hit .214/.280/.310 since April 13. That might be low for him, but not far off. His glove keeps him in the majors.
Reyes and Buehrle were worth all of that.
What’s the biggest obstacle to the Jays reclaiming the glory days of the late 80s and early 90s when they dominated the AL East and won back-to-back World Series titles?
I’m convinced it’s team owner, Rogers Communications, or Jays’ President Paul Beeston. I criticize Alex Anthopoulos a lot, but it’s becoming obvious his hands were tied to make moves this offseason. The shift in philosophy from “build from within” to “win now” is the obstacle. The Jays decided to win now, which means you’re “all in.”
The Blue Jays are not “all in” though. It’s an organization that looks and sounds lost; with the R.A. Dickey trade being the biggest proof of that (I grade that deal a “D” for Toronto). Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh have won by sticking to their “build from within” philosophy. The Yankees win because they have stuck to their “all in” philosophy. The Jays didn’t stay with a philosophy, and this is what happens.