A little over three weeks are in the books for the marathon known as the 2013 Major League Baseball season and the Boston Red Sox sit atop the American League East. The Toronto Blue Jays, this seasons trendy choice, are currently the division cellar dwellers. Can this hold up for the duration of the season or will the paradigm shift moving forward?
Obviously any speculation is just that, speculation. Nobody has a crystal ball that will allow them to see into the future. As we try to predict what the next few months will bring there are a few questions that everyone should keep an eye on in the weeks and months to come. To start with, fans of the American League East should pay close attention to some burning questions moving forward in the 2013 season. Not everything will be covered but each team has a glaring question that directly relates to their opportunity for success. Are these all the factors that matter? Of course not but they are key to say the least.
Boston Red Sox:
Is this staff really that good? Clay Buchholz is 5-0 with a 1.19 ERA and 1.01 WHIP. He has 39 strikeouts to only 13 walks. In fact he has as one more strikeout than hits and walks combined. He is literally pitching out of his mind. His career ERA is 3.78 and has a lifetime WHIP of 1.32. Jon Lester is 4-0 with an ERA of 2.27 and a WHIP of 1.11. Lester has never finished a season with an ERA below 3.21 and has been over 4.50 three times. His career WHIP is 1.30, .28 higher than he posted in his first five starts of 2013.
While 0-2, Ryan Dempster has a respectable ERA of 3.38 and a WHIP of 1.13. Lifetime Dempster has a 4.32 ERA and a 1.43 WHIP. He has transitioned to the American League for the first time and will he be able to keep up the success the second and third time through American League offenses? The bullpen has been nothing short of outstanding in 2013. The combination of Bailey, Tazawa, Mortensen and Uehara have pitched incredibly out of the bullpen over the first few weeks of the season.
Can they keep up this pace in 2013? It is a great question and something worth keeping an eye on as the season unfolds. The Red Sox will need this group to continue to pitch lights out to have any chance to win the AL East and make any kind of playoff run.
New York Yankees:
Can the Bronx Bombers weather the storm? To say they are riddled with injury issues would be an understatement. You do not have future Hall of Famer Derek Jeter until the All-Star break at best. Curtis Granderson, Mark Texiera, Alex Rodgiruez and Michael Pineda are all out for extended periods of time. So what did they do? They brought in two guys that nobody else wanted in Travis Hafner and Vernon Wells.
So far this season both are playing out of their minds and look like they are 25 again. Hafner has five home runs, ten RBI, is hitting .300 and has a 1.077 OPS. Wells also has six home runs, ten RBI, is hitting .293 and is carrying an OPS of .948. Nobody, not even Hafner or Wells expected this kind of production. But can it last? Along with them are cast offs or throw a ways in Kevin Youkilis, Lyle Overbay and Brennan Boesch who are all contributing.
However, you cannot compare the production of an Overbay to that of a Texiera or a Nunez/Nix to a Jeter. The numbers are not the same and the defense is lacking as well. With Granderson and Texiera due back in late May and Pineda expected with Jeter after the all-star break can this group of thrown together players sustain such quality play keeping the Yankees in the mix for a late summer run? It is hard to believe a team with such a high payroll could have these concerns but I just don’t know.
Up Next: Orioles, Rays and Blue Jays