MLB Standings Watch: Boston Red Sox stuck in the middle


We are now three weeks into the season and the AL East picture is no clearer than it was on Opening Day. All three teams are within two games of each other, with the Boston Red Sox stuck right in the middle.

Boston (10-9) is a game above .500 and only a game behind the teams at the top of the division. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the early returns from this season have shown several flaws with this team.

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After Sunday’s shellacking at the hands of the Baltimore Orioles, the Red Sox run differential has dipped to -7 for the season, making them the only team in their division with a negative number in that category. Their starting rotation is the worst in baseball, carrying an ugly 5.75 ERA collectively. Boston’s starters have only made it through at least 7 innings in a game four times this season and only surpassed that threshold once. There have been 32 starts in all of baseball this season where a starter has surrendered 7+ runs. The Red Sox are responsible for five of those.

Even though not everyone in their lineup is clicking yet, the offense has still been pretty good. Just not good enough to carry this pitching staff. Boston could have the best offense in the league, but if they also have the worst pitching then they seem destined to stay stuck in the middle.

AL East Standings
(A look at the division standings, as of Monday morning)

(American League team gaining momentum)

Tampa Bay Rays: Remember when many projected this team to finish at the bottom of the AL East? The Rays don’t. They currently sit tied atop the division thanks to a five game win streak that began against Boston and has extended through a sweep of Toronto.

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Despite an injury ravaged rotation that has endured having three of their expected starters beginning the year on the DL, Tampa Bay’s patchwork staff have combined to post the third best ERA in the league among starters. Chris Archer has been spectacular at the top of the rotation, ranking third in the AL with a 0.84 ERA. He hasn’t given up an earned run since Opening Day, becoming the first AL pitcher since Zack Greinke‘s 2009 Cy Young campaign to have four consecutive starts without allowing an earned run.

(American League team that is struggling)

Oakland A’s: This team was expected to struggle to repeat last year’s 88-win season that earned them a trip to the postseason as a Wild Card team, given the roster overhaul they underwent over the offseason. The perennially underrated Ben Zobrist was brought in to help offset some of the value lost in the lineup by trading Josh Donaldson, but a knee injury will sideline Zobrist for 4-6 weeks.

Oakland has lost 4 straight games and 7 of their last 10, but there are reasons for the A’s to be optimistic that they can turn things around. They rank fourth in the league in both runs scored and ERA, while they are also leading their division in run differential at +11.

Playoff Outlook
(A look at the division leaders and teams holding a Wild Card spot in the American League)

AL East – New York Yankees (11-8)
AL Central – Detroit Tigers (13-6)
AL West – Houston Astros (11-7)
Wild Card – Kansas City Royals (12-6)
Wild Card – Tampa Bay Rays (11-8)