Every two weeks, our baseball writers will check in with their respective divisions to see where things stand. In a shortened season, everything seems to be on the table, and baseball is not disappointing with a lack of crazy games and wild standings. Let’s take a look at the American League East.
1. New York Yankees (10-6, .625)
Hitting stud: Aaron Judge
ALL RISE!! That’s what everyone has been doing for the first two and a half weeks of the season as Judge has hit eight homers in the first 16 games, including a stretch where he hit a homer in five straight games.
Aaron Judge is from another planet @short_porch
— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) August 3, 2020
Hitting dud: Gary Sanchez/Gleyber Torres
It has been a horrible start for both of these guys at the plate, and the Yankees are lucky they have a number of other great hitters to pick up the slack. Sanchez has been the worst of the two, as his slugging percentage is lower than his on-base percentage. He had a 2-for-17 week last week and his current slashline is .103/.222/.205. Torres has been only slightly better with a line of .157/.232/.235.
Pitching stud: Gerrit Cole
I mean could it BE anyone else? That is an obvious no and Cole hasn’t even looked his best yet. He has given up a homer in each of his four starts and three runs in two of them. Overall, he has surrendered eight runs and 16 hits while holding a 26/5 K/BB rate over 22.1 innings pitched. If this is Cole at 60-80%, the league better watch out when he gets to 100%.
Gerrit Cole knows how to win. pic.twitter.com/tm4LvaLxAO
— MLB Stats (@MLBStats) August 3, 2020
Pitching dud: James Paxton
Big Maple finally found something to build off of on Sunday, striking out 11 Rays batters and not giving up a run through six innings before giving up back-to-back homers and the 3-0 lead the Yankees gave him. Other than how he looked in the first six innings, it has been a struggle for Paxton. He lasted just one and three innings in his first two starts, respectively, and gave up three earned runs in each of them.
The Yankees have a short, two-game series against the Atlanta Braves Tuesday and Wednesday to begin a nine-game homestand. The rest of the homestand is against division rivals, four against their greatest foe in the Red Sox, and then three more against the Rays. To finish the two weeks off, they have part one of the Subway Series at Citi Field with three games against the New York Mets. The Yankees are in a great position to distance themselves from the rest of the division and the homestand is much needed after a rough road trip. They are 4-0 at home this season.
2. Tampa Bay Rays (8-8, .500)
Hitting stud: Brandon Lowe
An American League Rookie of the Year finalist last season, Lowe has continued to be the leader of the Rays lineup. So far he is slashing .263/.333/.561 with three homers, ten RBIs, nine runs scored, and two triples through 16 games.
The Rays just hit back to back jacks off of James Paxton and the Yankees to tie it.
First a 2-run no doubter by Mike Brosseau (2).
— Jordan Moore (@iJordanMoore) August 9, 2020
Hitting dud: Manuel Margot
The main piece of the Emilio Pagan trade, Margot hasn’t given them a too good return so far. In 12 games and 41 at-bats, he is slashing .189/.268/.297 with nine strikeouts and four walks. However, he did look to start a breakout last night against Boston, as he went 4-for-4 with two doubles, a walk, and RBI which jolted his stats that were horribly bad prior to that game. I don’t think him being the “dud” for the Rays lineup will be a mainstay.
Pitching stud: Nick Anderson
In six appearances, Anderson hasn’t given up any runs with just two hits and one walk, while striking out five and picking up two saves over 4.1 innings. He has been one of the most reliable arms out of the bullpen for the Rays after making his debut with the Miami Marlins last season. He was shipped to St. Petersburg at last year’s trade deadline.
Pitching dud: Charlie Morton
The pitcher who finished third in Cy Young voting last season is off to a rocky start. Through four starts, he has given up 10 runs over 16.2 innings. The one positive is that he has struck out 17 and walked just four, so he could start to find success if that keeps up. 17 strikeouts over 16.2 innings is good for 9.2 K/9.
It is all division games for the Rays over the next two weeks, as they play three more games versus the Red Sox after game one last night. They then go off to Buffalo to play the Blue Jays at their 2020 home before playing the Yankees and capping the two weeks with a four-game series against the Blue Jays at home this time. This will be a big test for the Rays and they have a chance to keep up with the Yankees in the division.
3. Baltimore Orioles (7-7, .500)
Hitting stud: Renato Nunez
The Orioles DH is off to a fast start with five bombs through 14 games in addition to a .273/.355/.618 slash and 11 RBIs. He has been a big piece to keeping the Orioles to a .500 start so far. Three of his homers came last week, with two of them against Miami on Thursday.
Renato Nunez is on fire to start 2020 🔥🔥
.273 Batting Average
— RotoBaller MLB (@RotoBallerMLB) August 10, 2020
Hitting dud: Chris Davis
Nothing to see here. Everyone was getting so excited when Davis was hitting well in Spring Training 1.0, but he’s back down to Earth now. Chris Davis Earth that is, with a .125/.176/.219 statline as his Orioles contract continues to be the worst in the majors and one of the worst all-time.
Pitching stud: Tommy Milone
After a rough first start in which he surrendered four runs over three innings, Milone bounced back to have two solid starts in a row. He went five innings last Sunday, giving up just one run and six hits while striking out eight, and went six innings while surrendering no runs, three hits, and striking out three on Friday against the defending champion Nationals.
Pitching dud: Wade LeBlanc
LeBlanc has given up 11 runs, four homers, and 15 hits over 14.1 innings pitched. In his last start against the Marlins on Thursday, he surrendered six runs on seven hits and a walk in 3.1 innings. Not great, Bob. Not great.
Baltimore heads to Philly after an off day yesterday for three games against the Phillies, then go back home for a ten-game homestand against the defending champ Nationals and finishing off against two-division opponents in the Blue Jays and Red Sox. Can they continue to play .500 ball? We will find out.
4. Boston Red Sox (6-9, .400)
Hitting stud: Christian Vazquez
Vazquez has been one of the lone bright spots for the Red Sox so far this season, as he is slashing .260/.288/.520 with four dingers and 11 RBIs through 14 games over 50 at-bats.
Hitting dud: J.D. Martinez
It is almost all but certain that Martinez opts out from the Red Sox after this season and he hasn’t been playing very motivated to start this season up until last night. Almost as if he has already given on the team. Through 15 games played and 60 at-bats, he is slashing .233/.313/.400 with one homer (yesterday), four RBIs, and seven runs. His stats were helped out yesterday as he had his best game to date, going 3-for-4 and that first home run.
Pitching stud: Brandon Workman/Nathan Eovaldi
Workman has looked very good as the closer, as he has picked up three saves in three tries, and holds a 1.80 ERA, 2.03 FIP, and a 7/3 K/BB rate over five innings and appearances overall. Eovaldi has been the Sox only real reliable starter, as he has a 3.30 FIP and a 24/3 K/BB rate over 22 innings and four starts.
Pitching dud: Everyone not named Brandon Workman or Nathan Eovaldi
I mean there isn’t much else to say other than yikes. Outside of those two studs, they hold a FIP of 4.90 and have a 102/62 (1.65) K/BB rate.
It will be three more games versus the Rays before making their second trip to Yankee Stadium to face their rival Yankees for four games. After that, they have a quick two-game series at home versus the Phillies before heading to Baltimore for four games.
5. Toronto Blue Jays (5-8, .385)
Hitting stud: Teoscar Hernandez
Surprise, surprise. The hitting stud isn’t someone named Bo Bichette, Vladimir Guerrero, Jr., or Cavan Biggio. Hernandez is no slouch either at still just 27 years old and it has been a solid start for the right fielder. He is currently hitting an even .300 with a .941 OPS and four homers through 50 at-bats.
Teoscar Hernandez leads the 2020 Blue Jays in:
Max Exit Velocity
Avg Exit Velocity
Hard Hit Balls
The best #8 hitter in all of baseball!
— Chris Black (@DownToBlack) August 8, 2020
Hitting dud: Cavan Biggio
Biggio was a popular pick for breakout candidate this year along with the other “sons of former Major Leaguers” that I mentioned in Vlad and Bo, but it hasn’t been the greatest of starts for the son of Craig. He sits below the Mendoza Line currently with a .192 batting average, and while he does have four homers, he has struck out 12 times in 52 at-bats, which is a 23.1% K rate. His xwOBA (expected weighted on-base average) is currently .307 which is towards the bottom of the league and is only slightly higher than his actual wOBA (.295).
Pitching stud: Anthony Kay
The Blue Jays are getting away with highway robbery with the Marcus Stroman trade to the Mets. Stroman has now opted out of the 2020 season, and can now become a free agent after this season. He made just 11 starts with the Metropolitans last season after the trade and it didn’t even get them to the playoffs. Mets gonna Met. One of the pieces to that trade was Kay, who is pitching very well out of the bullpen, in three appearances he has given up just one run (homer), five hits, and one walk, while striking out eight over eight innings pitched.
Pitching dud: Matt Shoemaker
It has been bad for Shoemaker and it could still get even worse. He has given up nine earned runs off of 12 hits, five homers, and five walks in 16.2 innings pitched. Is ERA is at 4.89 while his FIP is at an atrocious 6.39. He currently sits in the low percentile of MLB rankings in Hard Hit% (39.2%), xwOBA (.344), K% (17.6%), and xSLG (.457).
The Blue Jays finally get to try out their temporary home for 2020, at Sahlen Field in Buffalo, as they have a mini two-game series against the Marlins and three versus the Rays at home. They then head to Baltimore for three, a doubleheader against Philadelphia at “home”, and finish the two weeks off with a four-game series versus the Rays at the Trop.
So THAT’S why they call it Buffalo 😳
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) August 11, 2020
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