The East is a battle of five teams, all playing over .500. The biggest surprise has been the Baltimore Orioles, who find themselves in second place in this beast of a division. The biggest disappointment has been the Boston Red Sox, who struggle to find consistency. Watch for the Rays. They are the only team that seems to not be in a desparate search for pitching.
We show our original prediction in parenthesis. Based on trades and injuries these predictions will have changed.
New York Yankees (2) 51-33
Heros - With the injury to Mariano Rivera they needed someone to step up in the closer role. They signed Rafael Soriano with that thought in mind a couple years ago. He has come through with 20 saves and a 1.65 ERA. Derek Jeter never seems to age. At 37 he is hitting over .300. Will he continue to keep that pace in the second half.
Busts - Russell Martin had a decent year last year and the Yankees felt comfortable at the catching position with a number of young prospects coming up. This year Russell finishes the first half hitting only .179. Chris Stewart has been getting more playing time as a result. Freddy Garcia has not been able to address the holes with his starting rotation with a 5.23 ERA.
Top Rookies - Cody Eppley (2.74) has been solid in the pen, filling his role for early bullpen duties. David Phelps (3.05) has started three times but seen most of his time out of the bullpen. This is a veteran team with no rookies impacting the roster.
Hot on the Farm - The Yankees have had some disappointing seasons from their prospects. A couple veterans are looking good in AAA with Jack Cust and his 19 homeruns and Ramon Ortiz with a 2.85 ERA in 15 starts. For the Yankees it is win now baby, so they may need to make room for these players contributions on the 40 man roster. At one point Melky Mesa was considered a top prospects. At 25 that has changed, but in AA he is hitting .271 with 11 homeruns. Cody Johnson strikes out a lot (90) but he also hits his share of homeruns (16) for Trenton. Vidal Nuno was pitching in relief in Tampa. Promoted to Trenton they moved him into the starting rotation. He has a 1.22 ERA in nine starts.
Season Expectations - They are an older team so the summer months must be watched. They are surviving the loss of C.C. Sabathia, Andy Pettitte and Michael Pineda pretty well. They hope to get Sabathia back but they need Hiroki Kuroda, Ivan Nova and Phil Hughes to show consistency in the starting rotation. They already have seven players in double figures in homeruns so power is their game.
Baltimore Orioles (5) 45-40
Heroes - For the first time in ages they have three players that were named All Stars. In years past it was always difficult finding All Stars on the roster. Adam Jones (.289, 20), Matt Wieters (.247, 12) and Jim Johnson (1.21, 27 saves) are big reasons for the Orioles successful first half.
Busts - They continue to find inconsistency from a young pitching staff that a couple years ago many teams were envios of. Brian Matusz (5-10, 5.42) and Jake Arrieta (3-9, 6.13) have earned demotions to the minor leagues. Mark Reynolds (.207) plays poor defense and no longer hits for hits for power to justify his swings and misses.
Top Rookies - Wei-Yin Chen (3.93) has given the Orioles some good starts. He is a Taiwan pitcher who is a veteran from the NPB. The second half will be key to see if he fatigues under the five man rotation. In the NPB they are used to 6 man rotations and 144 game seasons.
Hot on the Farm - They have already called up Chris Tillman (3.63) but Jason Berken (3.23) is also having a good year. Both have had opportunities before and failed. Steve Johnson (2.73) also got a brief callup but never appeared in a game. The Orioles are looking to acquire a veteran starting pitcher. They would like to think these players are attractive enough to acquire a veteran pitcher.
Season Expectations - The Orioles have played well early before and folded. Dan Duquette acquired Jim Thome to give them a big bat. He would also like to get a veteran pitcher to bolster the starting rotation. When you look at the roster you don’t see playoff team. Nick Markakis is ready to return, but they might want to hug Brian Roberts goodbye.
Tampa Bay Rays (3) 45-41
Heroes - Fernando Rodney (0.93, 25 saves) has been unbelievable as the closer. The Rays hope they can still count on him in the second half. David Price (11-4, 2.82) has become the ace of the staff as many had expected he would become one day.
Busts - They need Carlos Pena (.201) and Luke Scott (.205) to move away from the Mendoza line. They provide the occasional pop but their offense has been disappointing. James Shields (4.17) was the ace last year, but has struggled this year and Matt Moore (4.42) was the favorite for rookie of the year but may have to be demoted to get his stuff back.
Top Rookies - This is a veteran team with the only rookie Matt Moore. Chris Archer has had two starts, but he needs injuries to the starting staff to fill into the rotation.
Hot on the Farm - Henry Wrigley (.333, can turn on a pitch, but he won’t be usurping Carlos Pena for the first base job. His defense is not as strong.
Season Expectations - They need to get Evan Longoria back to put a spark into their offense. James Shields and Matt Moore need to pitch to potential. They are the only team in the AL East that seem to have a surplus of pitching they can throw out there when inuries hit their rotation.
Boston Red Sox (1) 43-42
Heroes - David Ortiz (.313, 22) has had a good year but some question whether his outspokeness has poisoned the bullpen. Will Middlebrooks (.298, 10) did so well that it forced the trade of Red Sox hero Kevin Youkillus, who was having his second straight disappointing season. Jarrod Saltalmacchia has found the power stroke with 17 homeruns.
Busts - Daniel Bard (5.25) was moved into the starting rotation and found his wildness returned. They hope he can find his command so they can move him back in the bullpen. Clay Bucchholtz (8-2, 5.53) is winning games but giving runs up in bunches. Injuries have forced Alfredo Aceves (0-6, 4.43) to take over the closer role with little success.
Top Rookies - Will Middlebrooks was called up to replace and injured Kevin Youkilus and played so will that the walk king lost his job.
Hot on the Farm - Mauro Gomez (.311, 19) normally plays first, but the Red Sox need his bat in the lineup. He is playing third base while Middlebrooks recovers from hamstring issues. Mark Melancon (0.83, 11 saves) had a rough go of it at the beginning of the year, but he hopes this return will provide better results. Bryce Brentz (.294, 10) can hit for power but the outfield has a surplus now. His strikeouts (93) would be a big concern.
Season Expectation - Pitching may prevent them from making the playoffs, though they hope to get Andrew Bailey back from injury before the season ends. They paid a lot to acquire him. Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury is almost back, but shortstop is still a hole.
Toronto Blue Jays (4) 43-43
Heros - Edwin Encarnacion used to be called E-5. He seems to enjoy playing at the DH spot, hitting .295 with 23 homeruns. He and Jose Bautista could finish 1-2 in homeruns.
Busts - Ricky Romero was supposed to be their ace, but pitchers with a 5.22 ERA don’t survive as aces. Adam Lind (.206) was playing so poorly they demoted him to the minors.
Top Rookies - None
Hot on the farm - They will have to wait until next year to debut Travis d’Arnaud (.333, 16). An injury may have ended his season early. Moises Sierra (.303, 14) could fill an outfield spot. Over they years he has been one of their top prospects. Mike McDade (.294, 13) is a power hitting firstbaseman that should get an opportunity before the season is over.
Season Expectations - Injuries to sixty percent of their starting rotation puts them into a wait until next year mode. Brandon Morrow should be back after the All Star break. Closer Sergio Santos has been out for almost the whole year. He may be back soon. Drew Hutchingson and Kyle Drabek have probably seen the end of the season.bf8