Major League Baseball will be back July 23! As usual, the AL East looks to be a interesting division. Here are my predictions for how the division will shake out.
5) Baltimore Orioles (Last Year: 54-108, 5th AL East)
The Orioles are absolutely terrible and they aren’t getting better any time soon. The one bright spot for them this season might be getting some of their younger prospects some playing time (looking at you, Adley Rutschman). If the Orioles understand, as they should, that this season is going to be a total wash for them, they can use the 60 games to develop and evaluate players in their pipeline. Because they definitely aren’t winning anything this year. Rising star Trey Mancini is unfortunately sidelined as he undergoes chemotherapy. Other than him, Chris Davis might be the only player on the roster I can name off the top of my head. Maybe he’ll hit a couple bombs so Baltimore fans have something to cheer about.
4) Toronto Blue Jays (Last Year: 67-95, 4th AL East)
Toronto won’t be playing at the Rogers Centre this year after Canada’s government put the block on them. They’re looking to play at Pittsburgh’s PNC Park this year though, which is a huge plus. PNC is one of the most beautiful ballparks in the country and getting to play there every day would be a blessing for sure. As for the team, hopefully Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio, and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. take their next step forward as the heirs apparent to a floundering Blue Jays franchise. Picking up pitcher Hyun-jin Ryu will help their rotation big time. Watch the Blue Jays for their young guys, but don’t expect anything.
3) Boston Red Sox (Last Year: 84-78, 3rd AL East)
As much as it pains me to say it, the Red Sox aren’t going to make the playoffs this year. Anything can happen this season, but it’s not looking good. The pitching just isn’t there. Eduardo Rodriguez will be really good, but Chris Sale is out and the rest of the starting rotation isn’t much to get excited about. The bullpen gives out runs like candy, so hopefully, they get their act together, but again I’m not optimistic. The Red Sox will hit the lights out with J.D. Martinez, Rafael Devers, and Xander Bogaerts anchoring the lineup, but with questionable pitching and the looming Rays and Yankees, I don’t think it’s there yet for Boston. They’ll be competitive and can definitely beat anyone on a given night, but the winning roster is incomplete. In Chaim Bloom we trust.
2) New York Yankees (Last Year 103-59, 1st AL East, Lost ALCS)
Before all the Yankee fans come at me, I’ll admit the Yankees are the best team in the AL East on paper. And I’m a Red Sox fan. New York is a team that I think suffers from a shorter season, as time to heat up and meet the lofty expectations placed on them will be crucial. I’d look for them to finally get hot in the postseason and probably make it to the World Series, but the division won’t be theirs for the taking. The Yankees’ starting rotation to me is one of the most overrated staffs in Major League Baseball. Gerrit Cole has been getting shelled in summer camp, and the universal acclaim the team got for picking up James Paxton makes no sense to me. This team is going to hit really well, probably right away, but I don’t trust the pitching staff to meet high expectations and get them to a division title. I think the Yankees are a big candidate to lose games they have no business losing. So yes, they should win the division, but I’m predicting that they don’t. Look for Aaron Judge to have a big season.
1) Tampa Bay Rays (Last Year: 96-66, 2nd AL East, Lost ALDS)
I trust the Rays. Maybe I’m wrong for that, but I really do. Their pitching is built for a 60-game season, maybe even moreso than they are for a 162-game season. The bullpen will be very good for them, and the strange opener strategy they employed last season will pay off. Plus, Blake Snell, Charlie Morton, and Tyler Glasnow might be the best top three of any rotation in the league. Run production might be an issue, but they can win close games by shutting down opposing offenses. In a competitive AL East, I like Tampa Bay to emerge on top, probably by a game or two. Through 60 games last year, the Rays and Yankees were neck and neck, so this pick isn’t totally insane.