AL East – Who are the Pretenders and Contenders

Right now we are just about six weeks into the 2010 Major League Baseball Season, and the AL East is looking like the strongest of the American League. With both the Rays and Yankees off to fast starts, it is looking like a two team race. As the cool days of Spring move into the steamy summer days, we will find out of each of these teams are build to last.

Matt Garza-Jeff Niemann-David Price Photo by Icon SMI

The Rays have shown that the off-season moves they made are paying off. Led by the play of Evan Longoria and strong pitching they have jumped out to a 24-10 record, best in the majors. The pitching of Matt Garza and David Price has been impeccable, with 10-2 won loss record between them. This pair, can be dominant and run away from the pack in the AL East.

Staring close behind them are the Yankees. Given the string of injuries and the ineffective pitching of Javier Vasquez, the fact that the Yankees are stalking the Rays, is an early season accomplishment. The loss of Curtis Granderson could play out to be a significant loss, especially if he has trouble coming back from that injury. Magnificed by the play of Johnny Damon this week in the series against the Tigers, many will question the front office’s reluctance to not pay the man!

Phil Hughes Photo by Icon SMI

However, the Yankees have been bolstered by the play of Brett Gardner, Francisco Cervelli, Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher. Their consistent play has made the injuries less onerous. The pitching of Phil Hughes has been a pleasant surprise and Joba Chamberlain is finding a home as the setup and part-time closer. This will enable the Yankees to save Mariano for the stretch run in August and September.

The Yankees were the odds-on favorite of most to be there again in October, save the question marks going into the season. The age of the Core 4 not withstanding, the Yankees should be at the very least the wild card. It looks like the AL East championship will be between the Yanks and Rays.

Where does this leave the Red Sox? Right now, the play of that team up in Boston has been disappointing to say the least. The injuries to Jacoby Ellsbury and Mike Cameron has really hurt the ability of the Sox to move runners around the bases. The pitching has been terribly disappointing, with the significant investment the Sox have made in Matsusaka, Beckett and Lackey. As a Yankee fan, I do know the talent at Fenway, and fully expect the Sox to start making their presence felt in this race.

So the American League East is going to be interesting and will make for exciting baseball in 2010. In the end, one of these teams will be the American League representative in the Fall Classic and another will probably be the wild card representative.

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