The Toronto Blue Jays were the story of baseball’s offseason, acquiring Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson and others from the Marlins as well as trading for NL Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey from the Mets. The Jays haven’t been to the playoffs since winning consecutive World Series in 1992-93 but were installed as Bovada betting favorites to capture the AL East this season.
It’s never wise to read too much into one week of action, but the Blue Jays don’t look like division favorites thus far, and Dickey’s 2012 season looks like a fluke. Toronto lost two of three at home last week to both Cleveland and the Red Sox. In Sunday’s 13-0 shellacking by Boston, Dickey heard some negative attention from the crowd at Rogers Centre. The 38-year-old allowed five runs before retiring a batter, those runs allowed matching the total of first-inning runs Dickey gave up all of last season. Dickey lasted just 4 2/3 innings against the Red Sox, allowing eight runs and 10 hits. In his 33 starts of last season, he allowed more than five runs once.
Dickey wasn’t good in his first start, either, allowing four runs in six innings in a loss to the Indians. Dickey says he’s not worried – what else would he say? — and it’s worth noting that he had a 4.45 ERA last April but then lowered it to 2.48 the rest of the season, becoming the first knuckleballer to win the Cy Young. It’s also worth noting that 2012 was a statistical anomaly when comparing it to the rest of Dickey’s career.
Another worry for the Jays has to be whether star Jose Bautista is becoming injury prone. The two-time home run champion was limited to 92 games in 2012 because of a wrist injury and missed the entire Red Sox series with an ankle injury. He had two homers and four RBIs in the Indians series but injured his right ankle trying to beat out a double play Thursday. The team believes he will return Tuesday when the Jays start a series in Detroit. Toronto is still the +180 favorite to win the division.
The Baltimore Orioles are +600 to win AL East. The Orioles had an amazing 2012 season by going 29-9 in one-run games, the best mark in baseball history. Entering Monday’s game at Fenway, the Birds already have lost three one-run games this season. Baltimore didn’t lose back-to-back one-run games all of last season. In addition, the Orioles have lost second baseman Brian Roberts for up to a month with a ruptured knee tendon. Roberts is one of the best in the game at his position when healthy, which hasn’t been often. He was hitting .417 before the injury.
The Tampa Bay Rays are +250 to sit atop of the division. Tampa Bay’s reigning Cy Young winner, David Price, was rocked for eight runs and 10 hits in five innings in Sunday’s loss to Cleveland, a team he had been 5-0 against in his career. It’s only the second time in Price’s career he has allowed at least eight runs. Unlike Dickey, Price pitched pretty well in his first start, allowing two runs in six innings of a no-decision against Baltimore. Last year, right-handed batters hit .232 against Price. This year, they are at .417 with two homers. Price will start Saturday at Fenway.
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