Q: Is the American League East going to be a five-team race all season?
A: Yes and that’s because every team has virtually the same flaw. The Red Sox have an offense that doesn’t need home runs - they’ve scored seven runs in a game six times without a home run - and a strong bullpen, but pitchers Rick Porcello and David Price still have to be consistent. ... The Yankees have the second-best run production in the AL, but CC Sabathia is on the disabled list and Masahiro Tanaka is a mess, so can the Yankees count on Michael Pineda, Luis Severino and Jordan Montgomery in the back three rotation slots? ... The Rays lead the AL in home runs and have gone back-to-back nine times, but the rotation is battling June slumps by Erasmo Ramírez, Jake Odorizzi, Alex Cobb. ... The Blue Jays rotation has already failed to make it through five innings in 20 games, and the offense has taken a step back from year ago: José Bautista is getting booed regularly.
Q: Are the Milwaukee Brewers for real?
A: There’s a lot to like about the Brewers, but the weird thing is that they have a losing record at home (19-22) while winning on the road (19-13). Corey Knebel has taken over as closer and solidified the bullpen. Eric Thames’ return to the U.S. with big-time power has been the story, but the Brewers are also getting good production out of Travis Shaw, a third baseman they got in a trade from the Red Sox, who are stuck with Pablo Sandoval at the position, at least when he’s healthy. From third to first - Shaw, Orlando Arcia, Jonathan Villar and Thames, the old guy at 30, have a strong defensive infield. Villar, though, has been on the disabled list with a back injury, and his replacement, Eric Sogard, has been a spark at leadoff (.464 on-base) and on defense. ... And the Brewers are doing this without Ryan Braun, who has spent half the season on the disabled list.
Q: Is it time for the Mets to start rebuilding?
A: The Mets had a slim chance to get back into contention, but they lost three of four to the Nationals. And now a team that had a chance to dominate with an incredible rotation has only two sure-fire pitchers, Jacob de Grom and Noah Syndergaard, who is on the disabled list. Their system is weak, so they will likely be willing to trade potential free agents Curtis Granderson, Neil Walker, Jay Bruce, Lucas Duda and Addison Reed.
Q: Has Nationals lefty Gio Gonzalez got a chance to make the NL All-Star team?
A: Gonzalez is from Hialeah, Fla., and so if he makes it, he’d be returning home with the All-Star Game in Miami. He’s had a remarkably consistent season, a bounceback from 2016 when he was up and down in every way. Gonzalez’s 2.96 ERA is one of seven National League starters under 3.00. And he’s pitched at least six innings in all but three of his 15 starts. Assume that the Nats’ Max Scherzer (2.09) and the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw (2.61) will be the top candidates to start for the NL.