AL BEast Notebook – May 13
New York Yankees
Despite having 11 players on the disabled list (including four third basemen and shortstops), the Yankees stand alone in first place. Since April 7, New York is 22-9.
- Mariano Rivera has turned back the clock, picking up an AL-best 15 saves in 15 opportunities, supported by a 1.65 ERA and sub-1 WHIP.
- After a shaky start, Hiroki Kuroda has thrown six straight quality starts. He’s now 5-2 with a 2.31 ERA.
- Robinson Cano has been the one consistent in the lineup all year. Cano is hitting .311 with 10 home runs, 10 doubles, 23 RBI, and 22 runs scored, and committed just one error in 320 innings at second base.
- Vernon Wells has been a big contributor to the team, hitting .293 with 9 home runs, 20 RBI and 19 runs scored. And the Angels are paying most of his salary.
Boston Red Sox
Two weeks ago I wrote that it was all smiles in Red Sox Nation, as Boston held the best record in baseball with a favorable upcoming schedule. Things haven’t stayed so sunny.
- The Red Sox are falling apart. They are 2-8 in their last ten games, including losing 5 of 6 at home to the Twins and Blue Jays. The games haven’t been close, either. Boston was outscored 33-62 over those last ten.
- The bullpen was supposed to be a big strength for the team, but it is actually the main cause of the problems. Hanrahan got hurt then got hurt again in his first game back and will miss the rest of the season. Andrew Bailey filled in well as closer until he got hurt. Tazawa has not been effective. Actually, the Sox haven’t had many save opportunities at all lately enough to worry about who’s the closer. The Red Sox bullpen WHIP and ERA are highest in the AL.
- After his late start, David Ortiz hit .500 in nine April games. In May he is batting just .179.
- Red Sox games have a lot of whiffs. Boston hitters have struck out 317 times, more than any AL team. Their pitchers have also struck out the most batters (363).
- It isn’t all bad for the Sox. Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester continue to pitch well. They are combined 11-0.
- Here are a few things to add comfort to Red Sox fans. The three batters they sent to the Dodgers are all hitting well (Adrian Gonzalez .345, Carl Crawford .315, Nick Punto .338). Jed Lowrie is hitting .310 for Oakland with 13 doubles. James Loney is hitting .376 for the Rays. Marco Scutaro is hitting .479 since April 29 for the Giants. And that’s excusing Josh Reddick, who hit 32 home runs in Oakland last year.
Orioles have been very consistent all year, having scored the most runs in the league and have the best run differential in the division.
- Chris Davis was red-hot for the first three weeks, and Manny Machado has been on an absolute tear the last three. Since the middle of the doubleheader on April 20 (22 games), Machado is hitting .396, with three straight three-hit games over the weekend.
- Jim Johnson has converted 35 consecutive regular season save opportunities, most in franchise history. Johnson has not allowed a run in any save situation this year (14 innings).
- There are suddenly some concerns with the starting rotation. Wei-Yin Chen was cruising along with five shutout innings Sunday when he left with an oblique strain. An oblique strain usually means a trip to the DL. If so, he would be joining teammate Miguel Gonzalez, who went on the DL Thursday with blister problems. They have sent down pitchers Steve Johnson, Jake Arrieta and Zach Britton (and Josh Stinson) to the minors in the last few weeks. Freddy Garcia has been starting and is scheduled for Wednesday, but I trust Garcia about as far as I can throw him.
Toronto Blue Jays
Despite a 5-3 stretch recently (a big improvement), there is still plenty of concern in Toronto.
- Josh Johnson is on the disabled list, Brandon Morrow was scratched from his start on Sunday, and J.A. Happ was struck in the head with a line drive last week. Ricky Romero was removed after recording just one out in his second start and promptly returned to the minors. Blue Jays pitchers have already issued the most walks and allowed the most earned runs and unearned runs, and these recent events put even more pressure on R.A. Dickey and Mark Buehrle, who haven’t been very good anyway.
- Rajai Davis strained his oblique over the weekend and will also be shelved for a couple weeks, the Jays second leadoff hitter to go down.
- Toronto is in last place by five games and has the worst run differential in the league.
- There is one thing the Blue Jays do well and that is hit home runs. They lead the league in bombs (51 in 39 games).
- Jose Bautista is starting to heat up. He is hitting .333 in May (with .453 OBP), although his two homers in Sunday’s blowout win were his first since April 27.
Tampa Bay Rays
Tampa Bay has won five straight games to crawl above .500 (19-18).
- Here’s a strange situation: the Rays hitters are Top Ten in runs, home runs, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage while Rays pitchers are in the bottom half of the league in ERA, quality starts, batting average against, on-base percentage and home runs.
- Matt Moore is 6-0 and had a quality start in every game outside of Coors Field. His 2.14 ERA is among the league leaders.
- James Loney has now accumulated enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title. His .376 average trails only Miguel Cabrera.
- Evan Longoria continues to do it all: .333 average, 47 hits, 9 home runs, 10 doubles, 28 runs scored, and 26 RBI.
(Disclaimer: Again, the Astros are so bad that when giving team rankings in the league, the Astros are ignored. So technically worst probably means second-worst.)