AL East Recap 8/10-8/25

AL East Recap 8/10-8/25

The American League East had an interesting last two weeks and it finishes with the Yankees one-half game ahead of the Rays after a Tampa Bay Bay loss yesterday. Let’s get into each team’s breakdown as well as there hitting stud, hitting dud, pitching stud, pitching dud, and what’s coming up next for them.

1. New York Yankees (16-9, .640)

After getting swept by the Rays, the Yankees couldn’t even have a quick turnaround to play their little brother in the Mets as the team from Queens had positive COVID-19 tests. The weekend Subway Series was postponed which may have been good for the Yankees so that they can rest up. Aaron Judge will be back from the IL for their next series.

Hitting stud: Luke Voit

Voit is currently riding a ten-game hitting streak as he went 12-for-31 (.387) over the last eight games in the previous two weeks. That included six homers, five of which came in four games in a row the Yankees’ last four (two on August 17).

Hitting dud: Aaron Hicks

The Yankees’ center fielder went just 6-for-29 (.207) the last two weeks and is hitting just .209 for the season with two homers and a .787 OPS. He is coming back from Tommy John surgery so he might just be taking a little while to get it going. The one plus is that has been walking quite a bit with 17 bases on balls (20.2% BB%) to just 14 strikeouts. He has also been hitting the ball fairly well with a 43.4% hard-hit rate, in the 72nd percentile.

Pitching stud: Gerrit Cole

Is it possible that someone else will get this nod throughout the season? Maybe, but it’s looking doubtful right now. Cole has been the best Yankees pitcher thus far, which is very far from a surprise. He had two starts these past two weeks and went 7 and 6.2 innings while giving up three runs and three homers overall. He struck out 18 (8 and 10) to up his total to 44 on the season through six starts.

Pitching dud: Masahiro Tanaka

It was an okay first start for Tanaka in these two weeks, as he gave up two runs in four innings against the Braves, but he then surrendered six runs (five earned) against the Rays in his last start. This was on eight hits and two homers in four innings and raised his ERA to 4.60.

What’s next?

The Yankees head to Atlanta for a mini two-game set against the Braves before playing the Mets for three or more at Yankee Stadium if they decide to play a doubleheader or two. The Mets have been cleared to return to action starting tomorrow. After the NL East games, they look for revenge on the Rays for a three-game set and then finish the two weeks with four versus the Orioles (doubleheader 9/4).

2. Tampa Bay Rays (19-11, .633)

As I mentioned, the Rays swept the Yankees this past week which helped them jump into first place in the division for a short period. Overall, they went an impressive 12-2 over the two weeks, as they got the perfect combination of hitting and pitching. A loss on Monday dropped them back down to a half-game back of the Yankees. Let’s take a look at their studs and duds.

Hitting stud: Brandon Lowe

Lowe was the Rays’ hitting stud two weeks ago and is yet to slow down, as he hit .354 with six homers and 15 RBIs these past two. This included four multi-hit games while pacing the Rays lineup to score eight runs or more five times.

Hitting dud: Hunter Renfroe

The main player the Rays got when they traded Tommy Pham to the San, or I mean Slam, Diego Padres, has not been hitting well at all this season. Over the last two weeks, he has gone just 5-for-35 (.143), while he did have a two-homer game on August 13. Those were his only two homers these past two weeks and he has four overall, while he is hitting just .167 with a .636 OPS.

Pitching stud: Nick Anderson

I promise I won’t have the same hitting and pitching studs for the Rays every time. But I have to go with Anderson for the second straight time as he has yet to give up a run with five more appearances out of the ‘pen. He pitched an inning in each of those appearances while surrendering just one hit in two of them and no walks while striking out ten and picking up a save in one opportunity.

Pitching dud: Ryan Yarbrough

Yarbrough started three games over the last fourteen days, and while he had a solid three innings of shutout baseball on August 15, that was sandwiched between two rough outings where he gave up four runs, including three total homers.

What’s next?

After finishing their four-game series versus the Blue Jays yesterday, the Rays start a three-game series versus the Orioles at the Trop today and then will hit the road for Miami and New York to play the Marlins and Yankees for three games each. They will then go on to finish up the next two weeks at home against the Marlins.

3. Toronto Blue Jays (14-13, .519)

The baby Jays had a pretty good 9-6 two weeks, which included a series sweep of the Orioles and a doubleheader sweep of the Phillies for a six-game winning streak in the middle. They have been getting some very solid hitting and good enough pitching to help them stay afloat in the division.

Hitting Stud: Randal Grichuk

Grichuk has finally started to break out in a big way this season which fans and fantasy players have been waiting for for years. Over his last 15 games, he has hit all seven of his homers on the season and has gone 19-for-64 (.297) with 18 RBIs and 12 runs scored. He caught fire last week when he hit five of those homers in four games.

Hitting dud: Danny Jansen

The Blue Jays catcher has gone 4-for-38 (.105) with a homer and three RBIs over the last 15 games. Catchers aren’t always the best hitters but Jansen hasn’t even had any power either with just two homers on the season and a .560 OPS.

Pitching stud: Hyun Jin Ryu

Much to my surprise, Ryu has been a stud so far pitching in the tough hitter-friendly and heavy AL East. He started three games the past two weeks and gave up just one run in each while striking out a total of 16 (7, 3, 6) and walking just two. His K/BB rate is currently at 33/9 on the season through 31 innings and six starts.

Pitching dud: Nate Pearson

The rookie right-hander has struggled in his debut season and he only went 2.1 and 4 innings in his two starts over the past two weeks. In those two starts combined Pearson gave up nine earned runs, on nine hits and seven walks, while striking out just four.

What’s next?

The Jays start a seven-game “homestand” tonight in Buffalo as they play the Red Sox for three and the Orioles for four. After that, they travel to Miami for a two-game set before finishing the two weeks at Fenway for four games against the Sox.

4. Baltimore Orioles (14-14, .500)

After starting the two weeks off with a sweep of the Philadelphia Phillies, the Orioles went on to lose seven of ten, including sweeps by the hands of the Washington Nationals and Toronto Blue Jays. Their pitching did them in as they surrendered five or more runs in all seven losses.

Hitting stud: Anthony Santander

“Tony Taters” has been mashing the ball for the Orioles and over the last two weeks, he has gone 19-for-55 (.345) and smashed seven long balls, which included a couple of two-homer games. That upped Santander’s total to ten homers and currently has a .287/.333/.661 slash line.

Hitting dud: Rio Ruiz

The Orioles third baseman has gone 10-for-46 (.217) the last two weeks with three homers while he has struck out 12 times and walked five times in 73 plate appearances.

Pitching stud: Mychal Givens

Givens has been nearly unhittable these past two weeks and this season in general out of the bullpen, as he surrendered his first run in his 11th appearance of the season on Sunday. Over 11.2 innings pitched on the season, he has given up just six hits and six walks while striking out 16. Even though I am not very convinced of the “hold” stat being a legitimate stat for relievers, he did pick four holds over the last two weeks.

Pitching dud: John Means

Means has surrendered three runs in both of his starts in the last two weeks, while he lasted just 3.2 innings overall, 2/3 of an inning in the first one, and three innings in the second one. However, his underlying stats show that he is a better pitcher than what is seen on the surface, as he has an ERA of 10.13 and xERA of 3.76, hard-hit rate of 31.3%, and 1.313 WHIP. He has given up a 3.4 HR/9 rate and his FIP is at 7.64, but he has mostly been used as an opener so he doesn’t have too big of a sample.

What’s next?

The Orioles head on a seven-game division rival road trip, three at the Trop versus Tampa Bay, and four in Buffalo versus the Blue Jays. They finish the two weeks off with a two-game set against the Mets and a four-game set against the Yankees, both at home.

Boston Red Sox (9-20, .310)

The Red Sox became the first team to reach the 20-loss mark on Sunday before the Angels joined them later that day. They started the two-week stretch losing nine games in a row and wound up going 3-11 overall. They traded their best pitcher, in closer Brandon Workman, to the Phillies along with Heath Hembree for Nick Pivetta and Connor Seabold.

Hitting stud: Alex Verdugo

One of the big pieces the Sox got in return in the Mookie Betts trade, Verdugo has been hitting very well of late. He went 17-for-56 (.304) over the last 15 games with two homers, seven RBIs, and seven walks. His two homers came in back-to-back games at Yankee Stadium.

Hitting dud: Jackie Bradley Jr.

JBJ had more strikeouts than hits over the last 15 games, as he went 10-for-48 with two homers, five RBIs, and 12 strikeouts. He is slashing just .235/.300/.358 on the season and isn’t helping the Red Sox not feel the loss of Betts as much.

Pitching stud: Matt Barnes

The Red Sox best and honestly only good pitcher this season is now pitching for another team. Barnes has been decent and was thrust into the closer role following the Workman trade, and has given up three runs in four appearances the last two weeks. He converted one save and blew another in his first two chances, while he has struck out six and walked three.

Pitching dud: Everyone else

The Red Sox pitching staff has been horrible and is at the bottom of the league with a 5.89 ERA, .279 BAA, .360 wOBA, .273 xBA, .359 xwOBA and are averaging 7.5 runs against per game over the last two weeks.

What’s next?

It’s three against Toronto in Buffalo, then six versus the NL East with three against the Nationals and three against the Braves, before they finish up with a four-game set versus the Blue Jays. It is not an easy stretch and it is likely they end up as the first team to 30 losses.

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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images

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