Handicapping the AL East Race Post-Deadline, Matt Moore Injury

Chris StephensCorrespondent IIJuly 31, 2013

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 28:  Matt Moore #55 of the Tampa Bay Rays pitches against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on July 28, 2013  in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The American League playoff chase just got a little more interesting.

The Tampa Bay Rays had to place starting pitcher Matt Moore on the disabled list with left elbow soreness, according to ESPN news services.

Moore is 14-3 with a 3.41 ERA, 115 strikeouts and a 1.23 WHIP, helping lead the Rays to a first-place tie with the Boston Red Sox in the AL East.

According to MLB.com's Sam Strong, there was no structural damage in Moore's elbow.

An MRI exam revealed no structural damage, and those inside the organization are hopeful that Moore will return to the rotation by Aug. 13, when the Rays return from a five-game West Coast road trip. Manager Joe Maddon said Moore's injury would not require a rehab assignment.

For the Rays, it's the best news possible, but it also leaves them without their best starting pitcher Aug. 3 against the Giants and Aug. 10 versus the Dodgers.

With four off days between now and Aug. 13, that helps the Rays.

So, with the loss of Moore, does it change the odds in the division? How about the Red Sox's acquisition of Jake Peavy and loss of Jose Iglesias? Or how about the Baltimore Orioles' multiple acquisitions at the deadline?

When all is said and done, will any of these have affected the AL East race? And what are the odds that each team will take home the division title? What about the Yankees' acquisition of Alfonso Soriano?


Red Sox

You have to love the aggressive nature of the Red Sox in acquiring Peavy, even if they had to give up Iglesias to make it happen. 

Despite what happens to Clay Buchholz as he looks to return to the rotation, Peavy is a form of insurance for the Red Sox.

According to Evan Drellich of MassLive.com, the acquisition of Peavy presents the Red Sox with a nice problem:

So let's say Buchholz is back by, say, Sept. 1 or so. What happens to the rotation, which is already full?

That question needs to be answered in something of a vacuum, with the assumption that all of Jon Lester, Ryan Dempster, John Lackey, Felix Doubront and Peavy are pitching well and healthy.

As the Atlanta Braves have found out recently with the Tim Hudson season-ending injury, too much starting pitching can be a good thing. Hudson went down just days before Brandon Beachy was set to make his 2013 debut after Tommy John surgery. So these things have a tendency to work themselves out.

As far as the hitting side, there are still no worries for the Red Sox, even with the loss of Iglesias. They still have a lot at the plate in David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia. They have to still be the favorites to win the division.

Odds of Winning AL East: 49 percent



The loss of Moore does hurt for two weeks, but the Rays are in a nice position in the standings.

They're currently tied with the Red Sox and have a decent schedule over the next eight games (the length Moore is expected to be out).

In reality, if he returns on Aug. 13, Moore is missing at most two starts.

He'll return with starts against the Mariners, Blue Jays, Yankees and Angels. So, there's a lot to be confident in when he returns.

My main concern would be the offense continuing to pick each other up. There are nine players with at least 27 RBI and six with more than 40.

If the Rays can continue to spread the love around, there's no question they'll be playing for the division title in September.

Odds of Winning AL East: 49 percent



The Orioles made a lot of moves before the non-waiver deadline, adding starting pitchers Scott Feldman and Bud Norris, and reliever Francisco Rodriguez.

Both the starting rotation and bullpen seem solid, but there's one big question mark at the plate.

Chris Davis has hit a slump since the all-star break, batting .220 with only one home run.

With his struggles, players like Adam Jones and J.J. Hardy are going to have to step up even more if the Orioles are going to make the playoffs.

While I don't think they'll win the division, baseball is still a funny game and anything can happen.

Odds of Winning AL East: 2 percent



Let's just be honest about the Yankees. Does anyone in their right mind (outside of New York) think the Yankees have a legitimate shot at winning the division?

Five of their starters (Derek Jeter, Vernon Wells, Ichiro Suzuki, Soriano and Lyle Overbay) are over the age of 34.

Their starting lineup seems to be better suited for an AARP commercial than an MLB starting lineup.

With all of the injuries they've faced this year, in addition to the age of the clubhouse, I don't see how the Yankees can feasibly put up a fight over the last two months of the season. And they still have 33 of their remaining 55 games against divisional opponents.

I just don't see how they're going to succeed.

Odds of Winning AL East: 0 percent