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American League East Roundup

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Justin Valentovic, Staff Writer

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The American League East is considered to be one of the most competitive divisions in baseball.  Even though the season has just begun, it is clear that this division is going to come down to the wire. The New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles and Boston Red Sox all seem to have a realistic chance to win the division.

New York Yankees

One of the biggest surprises of this season is how well the Yankees have been playing. Going into this season the main focus for the Yankees was to start the rebuilding process by giving their younger players more playing time at the major league level.

Following his success from last season, Gary Sanchez expectations were through the roof. Unfortunately, Sanchez sustained a strained bicep and has missed the majority of the season. He should be back soon and he could be a major boost when the summer comes around.

One of the biggest contributors to the Yankees recent success is rookie outfielder Aaron Judge. Last season Judge spent some time on the big league roster for the Yankees but had a disappointing stint due to his overwhelming amount of strikeouts. Early on, Judge has been a much better player. He has six home runs and 13 RBI as of April 23.

One of the biggest concerns for the Yankees this season still remains to be their pitching staff. Even though veteran pitcher CC Sabathia is off to a good start this season and Masahiro Tanka is stating to return to form following a terrible first start.

Still, the lack of depth in their rotation is the team’s biggest concern. If Michael Pineda and Luis Severino can continue their strong performances, the Yankees should be able to continue their winning ways.

Boston Red Sox

Coming off of their division championship last season, the Red Sox are definitely in “win-now” mode this season. After acquiring pitcher Chris Sale in a blockbuster trade, the Red Sox are going all-in on another World Series title.

The Red Sox have been compared to the Golden State Warriors because they are loaded from top to bottom with star power. The Boston Red Sox have one of the most explosive offenses in baseball today. Which is lead by rising star Mookie Betts and rookie Andrew Benintendi.

Even though Betts has only hit one homeun so far this season, he has been able to maintain a .302 batting average by minimizing  strikeouts, and having effeicnt at bats. Benintendi has had an impressive start to his season by driving in 10 runs on 20 hits, and also has .317 batting average.

One of the biggest issues for the Red Sox this season so far is they have not been able to stay healthy. Before the season had even started pithcer David Price was placed on the disabled list after suffering and injury to his throwing elbow. Also Jackie Bradley Jr., has missed games this season with a knee injury. If the Red Sox want to be abel to repeat this season they are going to have to keep their players on the field and not on the DL.

Baltimore Orioles

After a heartbreaking loss last season in the Wildcard round of the playoffs the Orioles are looking for a bounce back year. Even though the Orioles are in first place this year the lack of productivity from the majority of their lineup could be a problem. The Orioles depend heavily on hitting homeruns as the primary source of how they score runs.

Both Manny Machado and Mark Trumbo are off to slow starts this season. Machado has only hit two homeruns this season so far and is batting an abysml .176. Trumbo has only hit one homerun this season, which came on Opening Day, and only has six RBIs.

When Matt Wieters left the Orioles in the offseason and went to the Washington Nationals, one of the biggest concerns was whether or not Wellington Castillo is capable of duplicating Wieters numbers offensively. So far this season Castillo has been a good replace for Wieters on both offense and defesne. Even though Castillo has not had the homerun and RBI numbers that Wieters has, he is able to get on base to be driven in. This can be seen with his .326 batting average.

Much like the Yankees, the Orioles starting rotation still remains to be the biggest concern this season. The Orioles best pitcher Chris Tilman has missed the entire season up to this point due to injury. Also due to the inconsistent play from Kevin Gausman, Dylan Bundy, and Ubaldo Jimenez, the Orioles staff is one of the most unreliable staffs in the league. In order for the Orioles to make a deep playoff run, both the hitting and pitching need to become more consistent.

Tampa Bay Rays

Ever since the Rays had made the World Series back in 2008 the Rays have been unable to have consistency they need to be a contender. The Rays are off to decent start this season and are only two and a half games out of first place. This can be contributed to the play of Steven Souza Jr., Chris Archer., and Kevin Kiermaier.

Both Kiermaier and Souza Jr., are having good years at the plate this seasons. Kiermaier is batting a solid .292, and has been able to score 13 times. Along with Kiermaier, Steven Souza Jr., has had a fantastic year at the plate so far. He is batting an impressive .349 and has been able to drive in 15 runs.

Chris Archer has been the best pitcher on the Rays staff for the past serval years. He is off to a good start this season winning two out of his four starts, and earing two no decions. Archer has also been able to strikeout been able to strikeout 27 batters and carries a 3.20 ERA.

Life long Ray Evan Longoria is off to a slow start this season with a batting average of .234. But he has been able to hit two homeruns and has driven in nine runs. If the Rays want to return to being a championship contender they need to have the rest of their pitching staff to have better starts, and Longoria needs to be a bigger part of the offense.

Toronto Blue Jays

Coming into this season the Blue Jays were considered to be one of the favorites to win the divison this season. But to due lack of productivity and injuries they are off to a terrible start this season. The departure of Edwin Encarnacion to the Cleavland Inadians seems to be having a much larger impact then people had thought it would have.

The Blue Jays lineup on paper is loaded from top to bottom with batters who are able to drive in runs. But due to low numbers from Troy Tulowitzki, Jose Bautista, and Josh Donaldson the offense is not producing the runs needed to win.

Bautista is off to one of the worse starts of his career. He has only been able to drive in one run on six hits and has a horrible .118 batting average. Josh Donaldson is considered to be the best player on the Blue Jays, and was off to a goood start this season, but he will be missing some time due to lingering injuries.

The have been several occasions this season where the pitchers for the Blue Jays have pitched a good game, but due to the lack of production on offense they have been unable to win. In order for the Blue Jays to turn this season around they need to have more productive at bats and give more help to their pitching staff.

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