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The threat to the A.L. East throne

It doesn’t take a saber-metric expert to see that the Yankees have an absolutely loaded roster. They have all star caliber talent at pretty much every position. In addition to having the best bullpen in the league, they now boast a top five rotation to boot.

Because of this, some fans have already crowned the Yankees as division champs. Although it seems inevitable that the Yankees will be back in the postseason for the fourth consecutive year, nothing is guaranteed. The first step of the journey is winning the AL East.

The Red Sox have a scary lineup, but the sore elbow trio of Sale, Price and Eovaldi isn’t scaring anyone. Additionally, the Red Sox have decided that it’s a good idea to trade their home-grown MVP for no reason. The Blue Jays have a nice young core developing, but even with the addition with of Hyun-Jin Ryu, they aren’t ready to go toe to toe with the Yankees.

The Rays meanwhile, are a quiet threat to the AL East Throne.

While the Blue Jays and Red Sox missed the playoffs last year, the Rays won 96 games and beat the Athletics in the Wild Card Game. In fact, they took the Astros to five games in the ALDS. They won both games played at Tropicana Field. Take away the centerfield camera and the trash cans and it’s probably the Rays in the ALCS against the Yankees, not Houston. With the departure of Gerrit Cole along with the cheating devices, one can make the argument that the Rays are the second best team in the American League.

The Yankees and Nationals rotations will generate a ton of buzz, but the Rays quietly have the best 1-2-3 in baseball. Charlie Morton is a true ace. He finished third in the Cy Young Voting last year with a 3.05 ERA, and he seems to be getting better with age. His ERA has dropped four years in a row as he continues to refine his nasty curve.

Blake Snell, the 2018 Cy Young Award winner, had an injury plagued year last year but is expected to be fully healthy in 2020. There’s no reason to believe he won’t regain his Cy Young form this year at 27. As for Tyler Glasnow, he was filthy last year. He missed a good chunk of the season with arm trouble, however, he went 6-1 with a 1.78 ERA in 60.2 innings. When he was on the mound, he was pretty much unhittable.

Remember, this Rays team won 96 games with their 2/3 starters missing the majority of the season. This could very well be a 100 win team if healthy.

In addition to their dominant rotation, the Rays also have a nasty bullpen. Their bullpen games give the Yankees fits, and Kevin Cash is an expert at getting the most value out of his relief arms. The Rays lineup is probably their weakest link, however they are always pesky. The Rays are especially troublesome at Tropicana Field, where weird things always seem to happen to the Yankees.

The Yankees Red Sox rivalry will always generate a ton of buzz. The Blue Jays have a young and up and coming core. But make no mistake about it, the Rays are the biggest threat to the division throne.