Early lessons from competitive AL East

Early lessons from competitive AL East

The baseball season is a little more than a week old, or as Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin put it, "If you compare it to a 15-round fight, we're barely into the first minute." But that doesn't mean it's too early to start looking at what we've learned, particularly in the always tough American League East.

Baltimore Orioles
Manager Buck Showalter's club knows how to start a season, jumping out to a 4-0 record after opening 7-0 a year ago. Baltimore's rotation, a big question mark coming in to the season, remains a concern. But that bullpen people thought couldn't hold up again? Early on, closer Zach Britton and setup man Brad Brach look just as good as their All-Star 2016 seasons. If that continues, the O's could follow a similar path as last year, using the lineup and bullpen to cover for its rotation holes.

The jury's still out on: The power. A Baltimore club that belted a Major League-best 253 homers last season hadn't had an offensive eruption until scoring six first-inning runs enroute to a 12-5 win vs. Boston on Wednesday. Yes, the weather plays a factor. But if the offense goes south, so could the Orioles' season.

Schoop's solo home run

Tampa Bay Rays
Like Baltimore, Tampa Bay has surprised the first week merely by posting a winning record. The Rays went 5-2 at home and have been lifted by Mallex Smith. The outfielder, who has been likened to a young Carl Crawford or Melvin Upton Jr., is a captivating young talent to watch. (As is second-year starter Blake Snell).

Smith's leadoff double

The jury's still out on: If the Rays can hold up. If Steven Souza Jr. stays healthy and is able to contribute again, it will be huge. The same goes for ace Chris Archer, who is coming off a down year. Tampa Bay also has top prospects Willy Adames, Brent Honeywell, Casey Gillaspie and Jake Bauers who could make their debuts this season and be surprise contributors.

Boston Red Sox
Their pitching is enviable, even without David Price. Starter Drew Pomeranz stole the show in Tuesday's win over the Orioles, and if the southpaw stays healthy, he could be a real boon for a rotation that's already among baseball's best.

Pomeranz strong in season debut

The jury's still out on: If the Red Sox's offense is going to be streaky or not. Mookie Betts, Hanley Ramirez, Mitch Moreland and Brock Holt dealt with the flu, causing a real dip the first week. Will the David Ortiz-sized hole in Boston's lineup be an issue this season?

New York Yankees
Is this the real Michael Pineda? He dazzled on Monday night, showing once again a flash of greatness. Add that in with veteran CC Sabathia's early consistency and perhaps this youth-infused Yankees club -- which has some veteran relief -- isn't as far off as some people think.

Pineda's fantastic start

The jury's still out on: There will be growing pains with the kids, but how much? After Greg Bird and Gary Sanchez crushed the ball all spring, they both have had slow starts and dealt with injury. There will be ups and downs, but if the Yanks' young kids can channel some of last season's surge, they could be a dangerous team.

Toronto Blue Jays
The good news is it's early, though Toronto is off to one of the franchise's worst starts. It's apparent the Blue Jays need Josh Donaldson (calf) as an everyday fixture in the lineup. Toronto's pitching, which was hailed in Spring Training, has held up minus a Francisco Liriano clunker, and its going to need that to continue.

Blue Jays' early struggles

The jury's still out on: The Blue Jays' lineup has looked incredibly thin and their relief corps struggled while closer Roberto Osuna was on the 10-day disabled list until returning Tuesday. Toronto looked vulnerable and beatable the first week, bringing up questions everywhere.

Brittany Ghiroli has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2010. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.