Most Major League Baseball teams are 100 games into their respective seasons, so it’s pretty clear who the playoff contenders are at this point.
But it’s a long season, which means those teams still have work to do before the non-waiver trade deadline if they want to play deep into October.
A good chunk of those teams come out of the American League East, which plenty of people thought would be one of the weaker divisions in the entire league going into this season. But they’re not the only ones, so let’s break down what the contenders need.
Texas Rangers: Starting, relief pitching
The Rangers’ bullpen is terrible, and their rotation isn’t too much better. They have Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish, but Darvish has started just five games this season thanks to injuries, and the rest of Texas’ starters are middling to bad. But luckily for the Rangers, their farm system is one of the best in baseball, so they have a chance to land someone great, like the Chicago White Sox’s Chris Sale.
Houston Astros: Left-handed relief, anyone who can hit
The Astros have just one left-handed reliever on the roster, Tony Sipp, and he has a 4.73 ERA in 39 games. Offensively, three players are batting over .300 — Jose Altuve (MLB-best .355 average) and two pitchers with three at-bats each. Carlos Correa’s .267 average is second among regulars. That’s bad.
Cleveland Indians: Outfield, left-handed relief
The Indians have been dominating the AL Central, and that’s without their best hitter. However, that best hitter, Michael Brantley, still is rehabbing in Double-A, so they might need to add an outfielder in the meantime, perhaps Jay Bruce or Josh Reddick. Cleveland also has only one left-handed reliever on its roster, so really, the team needs anyone it can get in that department.
Detroit Tigers: Starting Pitching, outfield
Detroit’s offense (4.66 runs per game, 11th in baseball) is sustainable, but its pitching — particularly the starters — needs a lot of help. Tigers starters are allowing 4.69 runs per game (21st in baseball) and are tied for the third-worst quality start percentage (40 percent) in the league. Positionally, outfielder J.D. Martinez is returning from a broken elbow soon, but a quality fourth outfielder wouldn’t hurt.
Baltimore Orioles: Starting pitching
Oh, boy, is the Orioles’ rotation bad. It’s actually a little astounding Baltimore still leads the AL East and hasn’t dropped off at all. The Orioles have been carried by their nasty bullpen and powerful lineup, but they still need to address their starting pitching situation if they want to get past the AL Divisional Series. They don’t have much to offer in return for what they really need, but they could settle for a rental like Andrew Cashner, Jeremy Hellickson or Edinson Volquez.
Boston Red Sox: Relief, starting pitching
The Red Sox’s rotation has been almost as bad as the Orioles’, but they added Drew Pomeranz, their starters have settled down a bit after the break, and things seem to be going a bit more smoothly. Another back-end starter wouldn’t hurt, but Boston shouldn’t break the bank for one. What the Red Sox really need is another guy in the bullpen for when the starters do falter. Adding Brad Ziegler was a boost, but the bullpen has been plagued by injuries, so they likely need one more arm to take some pressure off the rest of them.
Toronto Blue Jays: Relief pitching
Are you noticing a trend here? The bullpen can be more important than the rotation in many cases — just look at the Orioles — and that’s something that’s affected Toronto. The Blue Jays’ relievers are responsible for a whopping 21 losses this season, which is third-most in the league behind the Atlanta Braves and the Cincinnati Reds. The team got Joaquin Benoit for Drew Storen on Wednesday, but his 5.18 ERA in 26 games with the Seattle Mariners won’t be the big difference-maker. Toronto will have to add someone else to prevent it from blowing games.
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