Preview: The Orioles seem to be pretty clearly the worst team in the AL East and possibly the worst team in the entire league. They have glaring weaknesses at a multitude of positions; most noticeably including 1B, 3B, and CF. The lineup lacks a little bit of everything. Pitching-wise, the starting rotation looks like it could be a problem as it has been for Baltimore for quite some time now. RHP Dylan Bundy, who is taking on the ‘Ace’ role, could be a bright spot as a 26 year old who has shown potential to be a quality starting pitcher in this league. However, Bundy does present questions as he posted a 5.45 ERA with a W-L record of 8-16 over 171.2 IP in 2018. The bullpen could also be a problem for Baltimore after losing three key relievers– Brad Brach, Darren O’Day, and Zach Britton –since the beginning of last season. A couple of players to watch out for this season are 24 year old SS Richie Martin who is a former first-round pick, and 25 year old SP David Hess.
Boston Red Sox
Preview: The reigning World Series champions come into the 2019 season with a lineup that is poised to be the most explosive and productive offense in baseball. With an offense headed by Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez, expectations will be high and quite possibly exceeded. The Red Sox return almost their entire lineup from their historic 2018 campaign. One player to keep an eye on in Boston is former AL MVP second baseman, Dustin Pedroia, who is returning from injury after missing nearly the entire 2018 season. It will be interesting to see how the 35 year old’s body holds up as well as his production at the plate. The starting rotation returns their five starters who all turned in an impressive season last year, helping the team put together a league-best 108 wins despite bullpen issues. Speaking of bullpen issues, that seems to be the only sort of issues this team could face. Looking as if Boston won’t re-sign Craig Kimbrel, the Sox seem to be losing the heart, soul, and anchor of the back-end of their bullpen. Closing duties will be handed to Matt Barnes and Ryan Brasier. Barnes posted a 3.65 ERA with a record of 6-4 with 61.2 IP last season while Brasier turned in a 1.60 ERA over just 33.2 IP. If worst comes to worst, Dave Dombrowski (Red Sox President of Baseball Operations) has mentioned having knuckleballer Steven Wright close games out of the bullpen. The Sox are returning most of their team from a great 2018 season and will be looking to repeat as World Series champs.
New York Yankees
Preview: Like the Red Sox, the ‘Bronx Bombers’ are also returning a powerful lineup from the 2018 season. This lineup is headlined by sluggers, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. That’s the best way to describe this lineup- sluggers. In 2018, the Yanks hit a league-best 266 home runs. People are blinded by Judge and Stanton to how deep this lineup actually is. Didi Gregorious has become arguably the best bat in the league at the shortstop position and catcher Gary Sanchez has as much pop as anyone in the league. Yankees fans should be also excited about second-year infielders Gleybar Torres and Miguel Andujar after their impressive rookie campaigns. Last season, Torres batted .271 with 24 HRs while his fellow rook Miguel Andujar batted .297 with 27 HRs and 92 RBIs. Not only do the Yankees have a scary batting lineup, they will also be coming into the 2019 season with an improved pitching rotation after signing LHP James Paxton this offseason. In Seattle last season, Paxton posted a 3.76 ERA last season with a record of 11-6 over 160.1 IP. The Yankees are solid in the field, at the plate, and on the mound with their starting rotation; however, perhaps the strongest part of this Yankees team is their bullpen. The Yankees re-signed reliever Zach Britton, keeping their impressive group together from last year. That impressive group contained Britton, Dellin Betances, Chad Green, Tommy Kahnle, and hard throwing left-hander Aroldis Chapman. This isn’t all though. Another addition to New York this offseason was reliever Adam Ottavino. Ottavino posted a 2.43 ERA last year while playing in what is considered to be the most hitter-friendly ballpark in the league, in Colorado. This lineup, pitching rotation, and bullpen will keep the Yankees a contender this season as one of, if not the best team in the league.
Tampa Bay Rays
Preview: People seem to overlook the Rays due to them being in a division with Boston and New York; but Tampa Bay has put together a team that could contend for a Wild Card spot. The lineup looks to be somewhat solid one through nine. Rays fans should be expecting a breakout season from 23 year old SS Willy Adames if they want any shot at contending for a Wild Card spot. A 2017-like season from outfielder Tommy Pham wouldn’t hurt either. The top end of the Tampa pitching rotation is very exciting. Charlie Morton will come into the season as the Rays number two guy after a very impressive 2018 season in Houston, putting up a 3.13 ERA with a 15-3 record in 167 IP. Returning to the Rays rotation as the ‘Ace’ is the 2018 AL Cy Young Award winner, Blake Snell. Snell posted a superb 1.89 ERA while throwing 180.2 innings last season in Tampa. The back-end of the starting rotation and the bullpen are the big question marks heading into the 2019 season. The Rays present a mix of veterans and young talent. Normally that could have the potential to make for a magical year. However, in this division, it’s a two-team race; and the more games versus the Sox and Yankees, the more Ls you are more than likely going to take.
Toronto Blue Jays
Preview: Toronto looks to be fielding a mediocre team once again in 2019. There’s only one thing we are eager to see in Toronto: Vladdy Jr. Son of MLB Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero, is expected to be called up this season. The long awaited debut for Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in Toronto is nearing and he seems to be the only source of excitement surrounding Toronto’s baseball team. Vlad Jr. is the number one prospect on mlb.com’s Top 100 list. Other than that, there’s not much for Toronto to look forward to. After very disappointing 2018 seasons turned in by starting pitchers Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez, the Jays’ future seems very cloudy. Keep a close watch on Sanchez and Stroman this year as both have shown great potential in the past and both are vital to Toronto’s success now and in the near future. The development of Vlad Jr. should be their main focus, however. They don’t have the lineup, starting rotation, or bullpen to win a Wild Card spot.