With the abbreviated post-All-Star break weekend schedule now complete, teams will now go about their normal business as we get set for another full week of games.
In the last few weeks we have seen many key players come back from injury-induced sabbaticals and this week will be no different.
So let’s look at some hot, trendy and intriguing names to watch this week.
Roy Halladay: Philadelphia Phillies
One of the game’s most dominant hurlers will finally return to the mound this week, as Roy Halladay appears healthy enough to return after experiencing some shoulder soreness in late May.
Halladay will get the start on Tuesday when he pitches against the Dodgers on the road. With the Dodgers being not much of an offensive threat and the fact that Halladay will be pitching in a pitcher’s park, Halladay could be in line for a successful start.
Jacoby Ellsbury: Boston Red Sox
After coming back from a shoulder injury last week, Ellsbury looked a bit rusty out of the gate, going 0-7 in his first two games back from the DL. However, Ellsbury has been on fire ever since, going 10-20 in his last five games.
It appears that Ellsbury has found his rhythm and is back to being a must-start option. With a seven-game slate on the docket and with all games at home against the weak staffs of Chicago (Dylan Axelrod, Phil Humber, Jose Quintana and Jake Peavy) and Toronto (Aaron Laffey, Carlos Villanueva and Henderson Alvarez), there is no doubt you should roll with Ellsbury this week.
Carl Crawford: Boston Red Sox
After sitting out the first three months with wrist and elbow problems, Carl Crawford will be back with the Red Sox as well.
After a disappointing run with the Sox last year, Crawford will have a lot to make up for. However, this is not the week to trust Crawford, as he’ll no doubt have some rust to shake off despite the aforementioned juicy matchups.
Justin Upton: Arizona Diamondbacks
There is serious chatter that Upton’s days in Phoenix could be numbered, as the Diamondbacks are in discussions with several teams (notably Pittsburgh) about trading the beleaguered star.
It would seem odd that the Diamondbacks would be willing to part with one of the game’s young up-and-coming stars, but if they do, they would get a serious haul in return.
This week could be critical leading up to the trade deadline, as Upton will be showcasing his talents for either a trade or a reason why the Diamondbacks should keep him in the fold.
Upton and the Diamondbacks will be taking on the Reds (Bronson Arroyo, Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos and Mike Leake) on the road before taking on the Astros (Bud Norris, J.A. Happ and Jordan Lyles) at home this week.
Nick Markakis: Baltimore Orioles
Baltimore has been getting by in the absence of Markakis (who returned to the Orioles lineup this weekend) and if they can get him going, then the Orioles can be in this race for the long haul.
Markakis got off to a respectable start this season and since he has come off the DL on July 13 he has gone 4-14.
This could be a week for Markakis to get going as he’ll draw the mediocre Minnesota (Scott Diamond, Samuel Deduno, Francisco Liriano and Cole Devries) and Cleveland (Derek Lowe, Zach McAllister and Josh Tomlin) staffs on the road.
CC Sabathia: New York Yankees
Although not out all that long, Sabathia will make his anticipated return to the hill this week for the surging Yankees.
Sabathia will be in line for two starts (vs. Toronto, @ Oakland) this week and although he may be initially on a pitch count, Sabathia looks like a solid start for this week.
Wade Miley: Arizona Diamondbacks
Miley is one of the more unlikely All-Star selections you will ever see and we’ll get to see if his first half magic can hold up in the second half.
This week Miley will also get two starts (@ Cincinnati, vs. Houston) and it will be a huge week for him as he was unimpressive in his last two stars prior to the break (0-2 while allowing 12 earned runs in 10 1/3 innings).
Robinson Cano: New York Yankees
It seems like Mike Trout and Robinson Cano (even as their respective teams were squaring off against each other this weekend) are having a contest for who is the hottest hitter in baseball. Judging by Cano’s current 18-game hitting streak, I’ll give him the edge here.
Cano has been mashing the ball and in addition to the 18-game streak he is on, he has hit safely in 24 out of his last 26 games while also going deep 10 times and driving in 24 runs in the process.
Cano and the Yankees will look to keep it rolling against the Blue Jays (Henderson Alvarez, Brett Cecil and Ricky Romero) at home before heading out west to take on the A’s (A.J. Griffin, Tommy Milone, Jarrod Parker and Bartolo Colon) in Oakland.
Ryan Dempster: Chicago Cubs
Coming off the DL just last week and extending his scoreless innings streak to 33 innings, Dempster picked a good time to showcase his skills, as he is reportedly being actively shopped by the Cubs.
A lot of clubs (think Yankees, Dodgers, Tigers, Braves, White Sox, etc.) could use the crafty services of Dempster and there is a good chance he could be in his final days in a Cubs’ uniform.
For now, Dempster is set to extend his streak against the Cardinals on the road when he takes the hill on Friday.
Matt Kemp: Los Angeles Dodgers
Along with Andre Ethier, Kemp’s presence in the Dodgers’ lineup must be a sight for sore eyes to Dodgers’ fans.
Kemp returned to the lineup on Friday (as did Ethier) and went 5-9 in his first two games back before getting a day of rest on Sunday.
Kemp will look to get back in a groove this week, but the matchups on the road against the Phillies’ (Joe Blanton, Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee) and Mets’ (Johan Santana, Matt Harvey?/Miguel Batista?, Jonathan Niese) staffs will be tough.
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