AL East Looks As Expected Thus Far

ALEastStandings420 The 2015 AL East was expected to be totally up for grabs and that's the way it has looked for the first two weeks of the season.  Obviously with only two weeks gone by there will not be a ton of separation anywhere, but parity has ruled so far in the AL East with everybody divided by only 1.5 games between 7-5 and 6-7. With the Yankees playing a series against everyone in the division to start off the year it has given us a nice look at their division foes.

The best thing the Yankees have going for them is that they clearly have the best pitching in this division and it's not even very close. The Orioles rank 20th in MLB in team ERA (4.73) and 21st in FIP (4.07), the Red Sox rank 26th in ERA (4.73) and 19th in FIP (3.99), the Rays rank 23rd in ERA (4.56) and 22nd in FIP (4.10) and the Blue Jays rank last in ERA (4.50) and last in FIP (5.06).

Meanwhile, the Yankees are 13th in ERA (3.65) and seventh in FIP (3.44). You can chalk this up to small sample size, but it's not all that different than what was expected coming into the season.

The Rays will get better when healthy, but their offense is still not very strong. The Blue Jays pitching will likely remain awful unless they trade for upgrades. Boston will get better, as their rotation won't have a 6.24 ERA the whole season. Joe Kelly is their only starter with an ERA under 6.00! However, it won't ever be better than middle of the road with what really is a bunch of third starters pitching in Fenway. Ditto for the Orioles at Camden Yards. Boston's saving grace is that their bullpen is strong, while Baltimore's and Toronto's will likely be in the bottom third of MLB.

I would take Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda over any starter on any of the other teams in the division right now, even though neither has pitched their best thus far. Not to mention the Yankees have the best bullpen in the division with a 2.17 ERA thus far, although Boston's is up there as well.

Boston, Baltimore and Toronto will have to to compete with their offenses, and they are more than capable of doing so. In a game where offense is down, these are three of the best in the league. Boston is stacked up and down its lineup, Toronto's 3-4-5 of Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Josh Donaldson is super scary, and Adam Jones is playing at an MVP level for Baltimore right now. The Yankees don't really have these kind of elite hitters, unless Alex Rodriguez keeps up his pace.

The big questions coming into the season for the Yankees were offense and health with the questions for the other teams being mostly pitching-related. The Yankees have been basically a completely healthy team so far. Even through only two weeks of the season nobody would have predicted that. There is a long way to go though, so knock on wood.

Also, even after a horrendous first week the Yankees team hitting stats are excellent compared to those teams' pitching stats. The Yankees are eighth in MLB in wRC+ (103), eighth in wOBA (.322), seventh in OPS (.737), fifth in runs scored (64) and are tied for second in home runs (17).

The other side to that is what I just described, how poor the pitching staffs are that they have faced thus far in the AL East. So if they have a good hitting week this week against the pitching staffs of the Tigers and Mets, then it's time to be impressed.

The division looks like a total toss up after two weeks, and 90 wins might be enough to win it. The Yankees have just as good a chance as anybody due to their decided pitching advantage, even though virtually none of the "experts" gave them a shot in the preseason. I feel a fun pennant race this summer with at least three teams in the hunt for the AL East.