Take a look at any sports book and the odds say it all. This season is no different as the New York Yankees are once again heavy favorites to win the AL East.
A look at last season’s standings further supports the bookmakers.
New York: 97-65
Tampa Bay: 91-71
After winning the AL East, the Yankees were defeated by the Detroit Tigers in a thrilling ALDS that went the distance.
During the offseason, GM Brian Cashman addressed his clubs shaky rotation by acquiring hard-throwing right-hander Michael Pineda along with prospect Jose Campos from the Seattle Mariners for catcher Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi. He also signed former Los Angeles Dodgers starter Hiroki Kuroda to a one-year contract for $10 million.
Pineda finished 9-10 in 28 starts, and compiled a 3.74 ERA with 173 strikeouts in 171 innings of work, and held the opposition to a .211 average. However, he struggled as the season wore on, managing just one win in 10 post-All-Star starts while registering an ERA over 5.00.
There is no doubt that Pineda has tremendous stuff, but is he ready for the AL East?
Last season, the Boston Red Sox’s 875 runs scored ranked No. 1. The Toronto Blue Jays had the sixth-best total, while the Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays were in the middle of the pack coming in at 14th and 15th.
In comparison to Pineda’s old division, the AL West, the Texas Rangers ranked third but the Los Angeles Angels and Oakland Athletics ranked 17th and 20th, respectively. How will Pineda respond to facing tougher competition?
In 32 starts, Kuroda went 13-16 with the Los Angeles Dodgers, finishing with a 3.07 ERA and 161 K's in 202 innings as batters hit .254 against him. One number that should not be overlooked is the 24 home runs he gave up last season.
The league switch will work against him as he will no longer see former divisional weaklings San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants, who ranked 28th and 29th in runs scored, and will longer have the luxury of having pitchers bat against him.
What should be even more concerning to Yankee fans is that he is moving from a pitcher-friendly stadium to a park that is known for giving up the long ball. From time to time, Kuroda will get lit up.
Last season, we saw injuries and age slow down Jeter and Rodriguez. Jeter will turn 38 on June 26th, while July 27th will mark Arod’s 37th birthday.
At 42, Rivera is coming off another dominant season. How long can he keep it up? As we have begun to witness with Jeter and Rodriguez, every great athlete has a shelf life. Could this finally be the season where Rivera ‘loses’ it?
What should we expect from the Yankees this season?