The American League East arguably is the toughest division in Major League Baseball, and it has some of the best hitters and pitchers in the league.
Evan Longoria has been one of the best hitters in the division since his Rookie of the Year-winning 2008 campaign for the Tampa Bay Rays, and he’s faced plenty of aces throughout his time in the AL East.
So, when Longoria writes an article for The Players’ Tribune about the five toughest AL East pitchers, it’s certainly worth a read.
Longoria, who’s batting .253 with 12 home runs and 46 RBIs in 75 games this season, named the Boston Red Sox’s Chris Sale and Craig Kimbrel, as well as the Toronto Blue Jays’ Marcus Stroman, New York Yankees’ Dellin Betances and Baltimore Orioles’ Zach Britton to his list.
In regards to Sale, Longoria credited his ability to change velocity.
“I think what makes Sale so tough is that he’s really unpredictable,” Longoria writes. “He has the ability to mix his pitches and throw them all for strikes, but he also mixes velocities within those pitches, which is something that you don’t see a lot of guys do with very much success.”
As for Kimbrel, it’s all about how well he throws his two pitches — his four-seam fastball and breaking ball.
“Craig Kimbrel is another one of those guys who, like Betances, really only throws two pitches,” Longoria writes. “He has a 97–98 mph four-seam fastball that can top out at over 100 mph, and a breaking ball that he throws in the mid- to upper-80s. But even if you guess right and think you know what’s coming, if he locates it, you’re still not going to hit it. That’s how good he is with those two pitches.”
This is good news for the Red Sox, but bad news for Longoria and the rest of the division.
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