With two weeks to go before the Major League Baseball trading deadline ends, the Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays are slugging it out for first place in the American League East. Slugging is the key word. The Birds Mark Trumbo (28) and Chris Davis (22) and Blue Jays Edwin Encarnacion (24) and Josh Donaldson (23) are five of the top 10 home run leaders.

These teams need pitchers

The Orioles average 5 runs per game. The Blue Jays average 4.93. Baltimore leads the division with a 53-37 record. Boston is two games behind at 51-39; Toronto is 52-42. By the way, the Red Sox lead the MLB in slugging, .471, followed by Baltimore .464.

The problem for each team is starting pitching. The Blue Jays have been the most reliable with 59 quality starts, a 3.81 ERA and .248 batting average against. Red Sox hurlers have 46 quality starts, the AL average is 43, but a 4.38 ERA and .253 BAA.

The Orioles have the least quality starts, 35, tied with Kansas City and Minnesota for the fewest in the league, a 4.31 ERA and are hit the hardest, .264 BAA.Baltimore needs starters. The Blue Jays carry three relievers, Aaron Loup, Drew Storen and Bret Cecil with ERAs of more than 5.00. Toronto has obtained Jason Grilli from Atlanta and he has taken over the set up role. Boston made trades to pick up a starter, Drew Pomeranz, and reliever, Brad Ziegler, a former closer.

Poor planning for tomorrow

If the Blue Jays and Orioles want to stay in front down the stretch, pitching needs to be addressed, particularly in Baltimore. Boston has something the others do not. The Red Sox have prospects. Boston turned the 34th top prospect into a major league starter. They turned a pair of lower level minor leaguers into an experienced back of the bullpen pitcher.

Cupbards are empty

Hunter Harvey, the Orioles top prospect, ranked 73, was pulled from a start in lower A ball July 16 because of “tight flexor mass soreness.” He missed the 2014 season with a similar injury. If that is the best they have, what does the rest of the farm system look like and who would want any from it?

Similarly, the Jays have one prospect on the top 100 list. He is former NCAA football player Anthony Alford. Class A hurlers in the Florida State League are holding Alford to a .188 average.

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