New AL East power rankings if Gerrit Cole is out long term

If Gerrit Cole has to miss substantial time due to injury, that will drastically change the landscape in the AL East.

Feb 16, 2024; Tampa, FL, USA;  New York Yankees catcher Gerrit Cole (45) participates in spring
Feb 16, 2024; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Yankees catcher Gerrit Cole (45) participates in spring / Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
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2) The Rays will always find a way to compete

Even before the Cole injury, it'd be hard to count the Tampa Bay Rays out because, well, they're the Rays. Even when you don't believe in them, they just find a way to make magic happen. It hasn't resulted in a World Series title, but they've been very tough to beat in the regular season.

Normally teams losing Tyler Glasnow, Luke Raley, and three really solid relievers in the same offseason would hurt, especially when the signings they made are headlined by Amed Rosario and Phil Maton, but the Rays cannot be counted out.

The Rays still have a strong rotation led by Zach Eflin, Aaron Civale, and Ryan Pepiot, have a really good bullpen, and should have a potent offense as well. It might not be as sexy as the rest of the division, but the Rays will rack up wins. The Yankees suffering a major blow only helps them in that regard.

1) The Orioles become clear AL East favorites following Gerrit Cole injury

The Baltimore Orioles were likely favored even before the Cole injury, and if the injury is serious, that only validates them as clear-cut favorites to win this division.

The Orioles won 100 games last season and got better, acquiring Gerrit Cole in an offseason blockbuster with the Brewers. The one thing missing from last season's team was the clear-cut ace, and now they have that in Burnes. The Kyle Bradish injury hurts, but they should be fine in the short-term until he comes back.

The Orioles are built around a young lineup that should only get better when Jackson Holliday gets thrown into the fire. Not only are the Orioles AL East favorites, but they might be favorites to win the World Series if things click, even without star closer Felix Bautista.