MLB Power Rankings: American League East Starting Rotations

Kyle SkovCorrespondent IIJune 7, 2011

MLB Power Rankings: American League East Starting Rotations

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    Who's going to win it in 2011?
    Who's going to win it in 2011?J. Meric/Getty Images

    The American League East is one of the strongest divisions in all of baseball.

    It may be looked at as a power-hitting division but it is the pitching that keeps the teams strong year in and year out.

    The starting rotations of the Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays all have to hold up strong if their teams are going to fight to be division leaders.

    With the likes of Evan Longoria, Mark Teixeira, Kevin Youkilis, and Jose Bautista, the starters of each team have a tough job. They have to keep these power hitters at bay during any given day.

    This list will break down and look at the ins and outs of the AL East starting rotations.

Baltimore Orioles

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    BALTIMORE, MD - APRIL 27:  Jeremy Guthrie #46 of the Baltimore Orioles pitches against the Boston Red Sox at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on April 27, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
    Greg Fiume/Getty Images

    The Baltimore Orioles staff ace is 32-year-old right-handed pitcher Jeremy Guthrie. So far this season Guthrie has started 12 games, recording no shutouts but has two complete games.

    The bad news for the Orioles: Guthrie is currently 2-8 with an earned run average of 3.71.

    Guthrie is not exactly posting great numbers for an ace of a club.

    After Guthrie, there are just young hurlers. They do not have the experience to bring the improving Orioles to the playoffs, but they are keeping the team in the games long enough that the Orioles can fight and win some close battles.

    The next three starters are Jake Arrieta, Zach Britton and Brian Matusz. The experience of these three pitchers is a total of five years with one being a rookie, one in his second year, and the other in his third year.

    All three pitchers are good prospects, but can they get it done in the AL East?

    Brian Matusz is returning from the disabled list and is going to be making his second start of the season. His progression in his second season is yet to be seen.

    Jake Arrieta and Zach Britton, on the other hand, are two very talented rookies.

    Arrieta has a very respectable 7-3 record so far on the season. He also boasts almost as many strikeouts as hits given up.

    But, he has a very high ERA—currently, it is at 4.93.

    Zach Britton was not even in the equation coming out of spring training. He has since established himself, pitching very strong for Buck Showalter’s Orioles.

    Fans think this 23-year-old is a future ace for the club. But can he cut it this season?

    He has a very respectable 3.33 ERA and currently holds a 5-4 record.

    Buck Showalter’s pitching staff is doing him justice in his first season as manager of the Orioles. They may not be producing amazing statistics, but they are giving the team the ability to win games.

    The Orioles ultimately will not make the playoffs again or win the AL East, but this season should be able to give their fans hope, especially with this young starting rotation.

Boston Red Sox

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    BOSTON, MA - JUNE 04:  Josh Beckett #19 of the Boston Red Sox delivers a pitch in the first inning against the Oakland Athletics on June 4, 2011 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
    Elsa/Getty Images

    The Boston Red Sox are perennial contenders. They not only have the offense to win the AL East, but they have the staff to do it also.

    The back end of the rotation is a bit broken with John Lackey, who is looking more and more like a lost cause. He has a record of 3-5 and an ERA of 7.60.

    The first three starters are strong and have been dominant for the Red Sox for years. Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz and Josh Beckett have the arms to win the Red Sox another World Series.

    Lester and Buchholz are growing into better and better pitchers each season. Lester may have even surpassed Beckett as the most dominant pitcher on the staff last season.

    Beckett, though, will not go down without a fight. After a rough season last year, he is back on track for the Sox.

    Beckett has an ERA of 2.01 with opponents only hitting a measly .189 off of him. He currently has a 4-2 record and his ace throne back.

    Lester has an ERA of 3.94 and opponents are hitting .251 off of him this season. His record though is a very strong 7-2 and he is getting good run support in his outings.

    Buchholz’s strength this season has been his stamina and endurance. He has been able to go deep into games for the Sox, relieving the bullpen on his starts.

    The pressure on him is tough and he has a 3.82 ERA with opponents hitting .260 off of him.

    The Sox staff is more then capable of helping them with the AL East. Their top three starters, if given the chance can allow the Red Sox to win the World Series.

    They also have Tim Wakefield and Alfredo Aceves as stopgaps between starts that will allow them to keep their strong arms fresh come playoff time.

New York Yankees

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    ANAHEIM, CA - JUNE 04:  CC Sabathia #55 of the New York Yankees throws a pitch against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on June 4, 2011 at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Going into the season the big knock on the Yankees was their starting rotation.

    Andy Pettitte retired and a large question mark surrounded AJ Burnett and Phil Hughes. Critics were writing the Yanks off before any of the staff even took the field. They pointed to CC Sabathia as the only bright spot on the rotation.

    As the season is still young, the rotation has been the bright spot for them. The Yanks bats were not as alive as fans had become accustomed to and the patched up back end of the rotation, with Bartolo Colon, Ivan Nova and Freddy Garcia, put together strong performances to keep the Yanks as contenders in the early going.

    CC Sabathia has been the starter everyone knows he is. He has a 7-3 record and a 2.80 ERA.

    As usual, he has gone late into games, saving the bullpen on his starts.

    AJ Burnett has been rejuvenated. With his rocky season last year behind him and his new friendship with catcher Russell Martin, he has himself more fired up then ever.

    He has a 6-3 record with an ERA of 3.86. He is also getting his strikeouts as usual, but his command, due to his movement on his pitches, is a little off. His walks are not too high though.

    Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon are both pitching like their younger selves. They have been rejuvenated this season.

    Freddy Garcia has a 4-4 record with a 3.34 ERA. Colon has a 4-3 record with a 3.39 ERA.

    Both have been large surprises this season.

    Ivan Nova impressed in the preseason and has been getting progressively better each outing.

    Nova has a 4-4 record with a 4.50 ERA. He has a lot of movement on his pitches and he is getting more stamina and getting further and further into games each start.

Tampa Bay Rays

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    MIAMI GARDENS, FL - MAY 21: David Price #14 of the Tampa Bay Rays pitches during a game against the Florida Marlins at Sun Life Stadium on May 21, 2011 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    The Tampa Bay Rays were thought to be on the downslide and were going to go into a rebuilding period after last season.

    But when you have young, talented pitchers and a great manager, are you ever on a downslide?

    The Rays have an incredible ace in David Price. He is a young pitcher that has nothing but an upside.

    Price has a 6-5 record with a 3.52 ERA. He will most likely win 18 games or so.

    The Ray’s staff does not stop there though. With James Shield as the No. 2.

    Shields  has a 5-4 record with a 2.77 ERA. He is also averaging almost one strikeout per inning.

    After Price and Shields, there is no real drop off with Jeremy Hellickson, the Rookie of the Year candidate, and Wade Davis.

    Hellickson is making a strong push for Rookie of the Year with his 7-3 record and a 2.64 ERA. Hellickson also has an amazing away record.

    He does not get intimidated by opposing fans.

    Davis is the weakest on the staff but, with a staff this good, it is not saying much.

    He has a 4-5 record with an ERA of 4.71.

    This staff is the reason that the Rays are not in decline. They are battling the Yanks and the Sox once again for the AL East with a very good chance of winning the division.

Toronto Blue Jays

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    NEW YORK, NY - MAY 24:  Ricky Romero #24 of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on May 24, 2011 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Michael Heiman/Getty Images)
    Michael Heiman/Getty Images

    The Toronto Blue Jays are always a strong team that has their bats grabbing headlines.

    Jose Bautista, the Blue Jays Triple Crown threat, may be grabbing all the headlines and rightly so.

    The Jays do have a decent starting rotation. It is above the Orioles but a rung below the Sox, Yanks and Rays.

    Pitching is what is going to separate all of the AL East squads down the stretch.

    The Blue Jays have a good young ace in Ricky Romero. At only 26 years old, he pitches like a veteran who has been around the league for many years.

    Romero has started the season with a 5-5 record and will definitely win at least 15 games. His ERA is 3.16, and he is getting a lot of strikeouts.

    The Jays then have a staff of Brandon Morrow, Kyle Drabek and Jo Jo Reyes to follow Romero.

    Morrow has a 2-3 record with a 4.50 ERA. Not really numbers to blow anyone away, but he is a solid starter like the rest of the staff.

    Drabek has a 3-4 record with a 4.69 ERA and Reyes has a 2-4 record with a 4.16 ERA.

    After Romero, the Jays do not have a pitcher that is going to be lights out against the power-hitting AL East.

    The only reason they have an advantage on the Orioles is their experience. They will be able to keep the Jays in a solid position in the AL East for the whole season.

    The Orioles' staff's inexperience may see them breaking down late in the season if they have nothing else to play for.