These 5 game-changers could decide AL East

August 15th, 2018

From the epic power of to the impenetrable defense of , there are exciting things going on in the American League East on a daily basis.

Fans are probably well aware of the exploits of those two players. But each team has a player with a standout tool.

The success of Blue Jays rookie lefty , backed by a signature pitch, bears watching. There are also players who have a skill that is more projectable, like Rays first baseman .

Though it's been a tough season for the Orioles, Alex Cobb is starting to improve as he further distances himself from Tommy John surgery. Of late, his best pitch has been tough to hit.

Here is a look at the most game-changing tool for each team.

Blue Jays

The player and his tool: Borucki's sinker.

Why it matters: The left-hander is off to one of the best starts by a Blue Jays rookie pitcher. He has allowed two earned runs or fewer in six of his nine starts, and he's the only Toronto pitcher this season to go at least eight innings without allowing an earned run. Borucki uses his sinker more than 60 percent of the time and it's his ability to keep the ball on the ground that has led to so much early success. In a season that has become about laying a foundation for the future, Borucki remains one of the most interesting Blue Jays players to keep an eye on.

Signature moment this season: Borucki picked up the first Major League victory after tossing eight innings and allowing just one unearned run against the Mariners on Aug. 3. Even though the game was in Seattle, Borucki was treated to a standing ovation as he walked off the field from the thousands of Blue Jays fans who made the drive down from Western Canada. A Gatorade shower quickly followed on the field as part of the celebration, giving Borucki a signature moment that he will never forget.


The player and his tool: Cobb's changeup.

Why it matters: Cobb was a two-pitch pitcher early on this season, and it showed in his short starts and difficulty containing the opposition. The righty has finally grown comfortable going to that changeup early and often.

Signature moment this season: Cobb retired 10 straight on Aug. 7, holding Tampa Bay to just two hits over his final six innings in a seven-inning gem.


The player and his tool: Bauers' power

Why it matters: The Rays have had a difficult time gathering players with power. Bauers is 22, and he could become a mainstay for years to come, bringing along his powerful left-handed swing that should develop further.

Signature moment this season: On June 24, Bauers led off the 12th against of the Yankees and connected for his second home run of the season, which gave the Rays a 7-6 walk-off win.


Red Sox

The player and his tool: Bradley's defense.

Why it matters: Bradley tracks down anything and everything in center field, giving Boston's pitchers the confidence to challenge hitters. Bradley seems to get a good jump on every fly ball or line drive, and he also has plus speed and a plus arm. There are few players more fun to watch play the outfield than Bradley.

Signature moment this season: Bradley provided one of the most thrilling catches in MLB this season in a July 29 home game against the Twins. Bobby Wilson led off with a drive that seemed sure to be a double to the gap in left-center field. But Bradley got a good read on the liner and sprinted there in time for a sprawling, tumbling catch on the warning track. Upon landing, Bradley's contorted body tumbled into the base of the scoreboard on the Green Monster. Not only did he hang on to the baseball, he also avoided injury. The Twins also fell victim to Bradley's cannon arm on June 19, when he made a 103.4-mph throw to the plate to nail Robbie Grossman.


The player and his tool: Stanton's power

Why it matters: Stanton's power merits a perfect 80 rating on the scouting scale, and he continues to generate adoring stares from his teammates, who frequently huddle around the batting cage to witness his impressive batting-practice displays.

As Stanton adjusts to the AL and playing in New York, his light-tower power is a consistent concern for opposing pitchers, who know that the reigning National League MVP Award winner is likely to punish any pitch carelessly left over the plate. With on the disabled list, Stanton's presence has become crucial for a club that once promised to wield an embarrassment of outfield riches.

Signature moment this season: Stanton enjoyed his first "Yankee moment" on June 20, pouncing on an 0-2 slider for a walk-off home run to defeat the Mariners at Yankee Stadium. It was the final blow of a comeback from a 5-0 deficit.