Games in the AL East are often very close and tight, meaning it often comes down to the bullpen.
However, in 2012, the rest of the AL East teams have a weaker bullpen than before.
The Baltimore Orioles and the Toronto Blue Jays have "bullpens," and that's about it. They're still a few years away from real, yearly playoff contention. It's the other two teams I'm worried about.
The Boston Red Sox lost Jonathan Papelbon and replaced him with Andrew Bailey. When Bailey's healthy, he's one of the best closers in baseball. However, injuries have plagued his short career, so it remains to be seen if he can still be the dominant closer he was before.
Bailey is an improvement over Papelbon, but the rest of the Boston bullpen has questions. A bunch of them.
The Red Sox don't have another truly reliable reliever other than Daniel Bard and Bailey. Alfredo Aceves serves as their long man and part-time starter, but there are times when he's shaky. The rest of their guys are just OK at best.
Then there are the Tampa Bay Rays, who somehow manage to piece together a bullpen each season, but they can't do that forever. Their individual pieces are solid but together as a bullpen, they'll make you wonder how they win so many games.
The Tampa Bay Rays' luck will have to run out eventually, at least until they get a real closer. The Red Sox have to come back from that collapse. When a healthy Joba Chamberlain returns, the New York Yankees will unquestionably have the best bullpen in the AL East.