As we enter the fifth week of play in the 2022 MLB season, the AL East has been as advertised: a gauntlet with several legitimate contenders.
Entering the campaign, four out of the five teams in this division were projected to finish between 86 and 92 wins. While teams like the Yankees and Blue Jays are off to a flying start, the team that made it furthest in the Postseason in 2021, the Boston Red Sox, uncharacteristically sits at the bottom of the AL East after their first 29 games.
The back-to-back AL East champion Tampa Bay Rays have been surging as of late, winning six out of seven during last week’s action, and the Baltimore Orioles continues to nab wins off of some of the biggest contenders as they continue their rebuild.
Let’s recap last week’s action in the American League East.
1. New York Yankees: 19-8 (3-2 last week)
The Yankees dealt with several rainouts this week, limiting them to five games in the past seven days, including a doubleheader against Texas yesterday. Over the next 21 days, the Yankees will play 21 games, truly showing the league if they have what it takes to go all the way this year. But the fact still remains, they’ve been the best team in baseball over their first 27 games.
Taking two of three from a potent Toronto team and splitting the doubleheader with the Rangers on Sunday, it was another successful week for the 27-time world champions.
As a team, the Yankees top the wRC+ charts at 119, cementing themselves as one of the best hitting teams in baseball. However, that hasn’t even been the most important aspect of their game thus far.
It’s been the pitching.
Their starters have the third lowest ERA in the league at 2.79, and their bullpen sports the best ERA in baseball at 2.35.
The Yankees finish up their series with the Rangers today, hosting the Blue Jays for a two-game set starting on Tuesday, then cap off their week with a road trip to Chicago to face the White Sox.
2. Tampa Bay Rays: 18-11 (6-1 last week)
After a slow start in their first week of action, Tampa has officially gotten the ball rolling, winning eight of their last 10 games, with their only loss coming in yesterday’s series finale against the Mariners.
After losing three of four against the struggling Oakland Athletics in their second series of the season, Tampa made it up this week, sweeping them in a three-game set.
They then capped off their stellar week by taking three of four from the Seattle Mariners, jumping up to second place in the division over the Blue Jays.
Holding the second-best team wRC+ in the league just behind the Yankees at 118, this offense is clicking on all cylinders right now.
The Rays head to Los Angeles to face the Angels in a three-game set over the next three days. Following an off-day Thursday, they finish out the week back at home against the Toronto Blue Jays.
3. Toronto Blue Jays: 17-13 (2-5 last week)
In a complete fall from grace for the Canadian boys, Toronto struggled in their seven matchups last week. Last week on the State of the Division: AL East podcast, I touted Toronto as the best team in the American League. They failed to replicate their early season form against New York and Cleveland.
Taking the final matchup in a three-game set against the Yankees on Wednesday, the Blue Jays were only able to take one away from a mediocre Guardians team. José Berríos was knocked around for six earned runs in the first game of the series, and the bullpen struggled in the team’s other two losses.
Toronto started hot, coming into the previous week with a 15-8 record, firmly in second place of the American League East. This week, they will look to get back to form against few division rivals.
Following their off day today, Toronto will head to New York for a two-game set with the Yankees, then finish their week in Tampa Bay against the scorching hot Rays.
4. Baltimore Orioles: 11-17 (3-3 last week)
Let’s talk about the fourth place team in the AL East, the Boston… oh wait, it’s not them? Baltimore has jumped the Red Sox in the division standings? Baseball is so unpredictable.
The rebuilding Orioles were able to put together a relatively decent week last week, splitting the series against the AL Central leaders in Minnesota, and taking one of three so far against Kansas City, with that four game series finishing up today.
Baltimore will continue to play spoiler in this loaded division, and we’ve already seen it occur with series wins against the Red Sox and Yankees earlier in the season.
As the Orioles continue to revamp their young core, they anxiously await the debuts of two of their top prospects, Adley Rutschman and Grayson Rodriguez, who will both more than likely make their MLB debuts in the near future.
Baltimore will finish their four-game set with the Royals today, traveling to St. Louis for an interleague matchup against the Cardinals, and capping off their week with a three game set against the Tigers in Detroit.
5. Boston Red Sox: 10-19 (1-5 last week)
One of the biggest surprises of the 2021 season thus far has been the early struggles of the Boston Red Sox. Finishing last year with an appearance in the ALCS and adding superstar shortstop Trevor Story in the offseason had most of assuming they would be a top team again in 2022, but it hasn’t panned out that way in Boston’s first 29 games.
A six-run tenth inning in the midweek matchup against the Angels left Boston in shambles, as they lost their final four games in the week, including being swept by the White Sox over the weekend.
They’ve been one of the worst offenses in baseball this year, with the third lowest wRC+ as a team so far at 79. Well-regarded as a top-five offense in all of baseball coming into the campaign, they’ve done nothing but struggle in 2022. Boston will look to bounce back and make up some ground in this highly competitive division this week, traveling to Atlanta for a two game set with the reigning champions. After an off-day Thursday, they finish out their week in the Lone Star State with a three game series against the Rangers.