Jayson Stark: You know, there is a reason so many of us media geniuses picked the Jays to win this division last spring. It's called talent. But last year they got to run their projected lineup out there for only three games all season. If they can actually keep Bautista (coming off an awesome spring), Jose Reyes, Lawrie and this core on the field, this is a lineup no pitcher would want to face. But there is also a reason GM Alex Anthopoulos took so much heat for not signing a big-name free-agent starter. This team's rotation just doesn't look ready for the wilds of the AL East. As one scout put it, "That AL East is not a real good place not to have pitching." Maybe an excellent bullpen can cover up the lack of dominant starters. Maybe the Blue Jays will get more than anticipated out of promising young starters like Drew Hutchison. Maybe their best young arms, Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez, show up in midseason and do a Sonny Gray impression. But this staff will need all of that.
Jayson Stark: The Tigers still kick off their rotation with two Cy Youngs (Justin Verlander/Max Scherzer) and the ERA champ (Anibal Sanchez). They still have an awesome top of the order (Ian Kinsler/Torii Hunter/Miguel Cabrera/Victor Martinez). But look a little more closely. This is a very different Tigers team. This lineup doesn't hang out on Thunder Road anymore, not with Prince Fielder and Jhonny Peralta gone and catcher Alex Avila's slugging percentage down 130 points since 2011 (.376 last season). So Cabrera and Martinez had better stay healthy. There are questions on the left side of the infield, where Nick Castellanos just moved back to third base from the outfield and Jose Iglesias' shin issues have turned shortstop into a work in progress. And even with the signing of Joe Nathan to get the ninth inning settled down, is there anyone in this bullpen who can handle all those other innings, now that Bruce Rondon (Tommy John surgery) is done for the season? While this team still looks like the AL Central favorite, there's more heat on the Tigers' marquee attractions to stay healthy and productive than ever before.
David Schoenfield: It starts with two-time AL MVP Cabrera and three Cy Young candidates in 2013 winner Scherzer, 2011 winner Verlander and reigning AL ERA champ Sanchez. Rick Porcello and Drew Smyly round out a rotation that could be the best in baseball. New manager Brad Ausmus brings a new closer with him in Nathan, but remember that Joaquin Benoit (the Tigers' primary closer last year, now with the Padres) had a 2.01 ERA and Smyly (a reliever all of last season) had a 2.37 ERA; that back of the bullpen was actually pretty solid last year. The big change was the trade of Fielder for Kinsler, which moves Cabrera back to first base and clears room for rookie third baseman Castellanos. The Tigers have a gaping hole at shortstop with Iglesias possibly out for the year. They are the heavy favorites to win the Central, but this team lacks depth behind the five-man rotation and the bench is awful, so they need to stay healthy.