MLB Standings Watch: Eduardo Rodriguez giving Boston Red Sox rotation a boost


The Boston Red Sox (27-32) have shown a bit of progress lately, winning 5 of their last 8 games, including their first three-game sweep of the year that set a new season-high win streak. Unfortunately it hasn’t done much to alter their position in the standings, as every time they win it seems that each of their AL East opponents does as well.

No matter how well the Red Sox play they can’t make up ground on a division leading New York Yankees team that has won 7 straight games.

As frustrating as this season has been for the Red Sox, there are reasons for optimism. Rookie Eduardo Rodriguez has become a savior for a starting rotation that has struggled through inconsistencies all year. The 22-year old has been stellar since his debut, posting a minuscule 0.44 ERA, 0.73 WHIP and recording 21 strikeouts in 20.2 innings. Rodriguez’s start to his major league career hasn’t just been great, it’s been historic.

Rodriguez will eventually have a start where he surrenders more than one run, but he’s earned his spot in the rotation and has helped settle down a pitching staff that desperately needed someone to step up.

Now if only the Red Sox could score him some runs so that his brilliant efforts aren’t wasted, they may be in good shape.

AL East Standings

(American League team gaining momentum)

Toronto Blue Jays: A 7-game win streak has brought the Jays back to .500 this season. Toronto leads the majors with 318 runs scored and their +54 Run Differential is the best in the AL, indicating they have played better than their record suggests.

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The Jays offense has been elite for the past few years, ranking 4th in the league in runs scored last season, but their dominance this season has been led by a fresh face. Josh Donaldson is hitting .316/.369/.581 in his first season playing north of the border. His 16 home runs are tied for 3rd in the league , he’s second in RBI’s with 43, fourth in OPS at .949 and tied for second with a 3.6 WAR. If the Jays remain in the playoff hunt, Donaldson will be a legitimate MVP contender.

The return of Jose Reyes near the end of last month has given the Jays a boost at the top of their lineup. Reyes missed nearly a month with a fractured rib, but he’s hitting .353 and has already swiped 5 bases this month, including a 3-steal game on June 6 against Houston.

(American League team that is struggling)

Houston Astros: Not long ago it seemed this youthful bunch was going to run away with their division, but a six-game losing streak has sent Houston crashing back to Earth. They still remain on top of the AL West, but lead the surging Texas Rangers by only two games.

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The Astros pitching staff was a major strength during their unexpected rise early in the season, but Houston has ranked only 13th in the league so far in June with a 4.01 ERA. Dallas Keuchel continues to look like a Cy Young candidate, but the rest of the rotation has combined to post a 4.12 ERA this month.

Houston’s bullpen is starting to become a concern. Chad Qualls is second on the team in holds (7) and saves (4), but his ERA has ballooned to 5.31 after some shaky outings this month in which he’s allowed 3 earned runs in 1 inning over two appearances. Closer Luke Gregerson is 6th in the league with 15 saves, but he’s blown a pair already this season, has a 4.50 ERA that is the 3rd worst in the league among relievers with at least 7 saves and has posted a -0.2 WAR. Gregerson has never been a full-time closer before, having primarily served as an elite set-up man that would occasionally fill in for 9th-inning duties when his team’s closer was unavailable. If Houston wants to remain a contender, they should be in the market to add a more reliable option to the back of their bullpen before next month’s trade deadline.

Playoff Outlook
(Division leaders and teams holding a Wild Card spot in the American League)

AL East: New York Yankees
AL Central: Kansas City Royals
AL West: Houston Astros
Wild Card: Minnesota Twins
Wild Card: Texas Rangers