Early lessons from competitive AL East

April 12th, 2017

The baseball season is a little more than a week old, or as Blue Jays catcher put it, "If you compare it to a 15-round fight, we're barely into the first minute." But that doesn't mean it's too early to start looking at what we've learned, particularly in the always tough American League East.

Baltimore Orioles

Manager Buck Showalter's club knows how to start a season, jumping out to a 4-0 record after opening 7-0 a year ago. Baltimore's rotation, a big question mark coming in to the season, remains a concern. But that bullpen people thought couldn't hold up again? Early on, closer Zach Britton and setup man look just as good as their All-Star 2016 seasons. If that continues, the O's could follow a similar path as last year, using the lineup and bullpen to cover for its rotation holes.

The jury's still out on: The power. A Baltimore club that belted a Major League-best 253 homers last season hadn't had an offensive eruption until scoring six first-inning runs enroute to a 12-5 win vs. Boston on Wednesday. Yes, the weather plays a factor. But if the offense goes south, so could the Orioles' season.

Tampa Bay Rays

Like Baltimore, Tampa Bay has surprised the first week merely by posting a winning record. The Rays went 5-2 at home and have been lifted by . The outfielder, who has been likened to a young or Melvin Upton Jr., is a captivating young talent to watch. (As is second-year starter ).

The jury's still out on: If the Rays can hold up. If Steven Souza Jr. stays healthy and is able to contribute again, it will be huge. The same goes for ace Chris Archer, who is coming off a down year. Tampa Bay also has top prospects, Brent Honeywell, Casey Gillaspie and who could make their debuts this season and be surprise contributors.

Boston Red Sox

Their pitching is enviable, even without . Starter stole the show in Tuesday's win over the Orioles, and if the southpaw stays healthy, he could be a real boon for a rotation that's already among baseball's best.

The jury's still out on: If the Red Sox's offense is going to be streaky or not. , , Mitch Moreland and dealt with the flu, causing a real dip the first week. Will the David Ortiz-sized hole in Boston's lineup be an issue this season?

New York Yankees

Is this the real ? He dazzled on Monday night, showing once again a flash of greatness. Add that in with veteran 's early consistency and perhaps this youth-infused Yankees club -- which has some veteran relief -- isn't as far off as some people think.

The jury's still out on: There will be growing pains with the kids, but how much? After Greg Bird and crushed the ball all spring, they both have had slow starts and dealt with injury. There will be ups and downs, but if the Yanks' young kids can channel some of last season's surge, they could be a dangerous team.

Toronto Blue Jays

The good news is it's early, though Toronto is off to one of the franchise's worst starts. It's apparent the Blue Jays need Josh Donaldson (calf) as an everyday fixture in the lineup. Toronto's pitching, which was hailed in Spring Training, has held up minus a clunker, and its going to need that to continue.

The jury's still out on: The Blue Jays' lineup has looked incredibly thin and their relief corps struggled while closer was on the 10-day disabled list until returning Tuesday. Toronto looked vulnerable and beatable the first week, bringing up questions everywhere.