With the trade deadline just a bit more than a week away, many teams will have to decide if they are buyers or sellers.
This will be a week for many players to showcase their skills as teams will have to make all non-waiver deals official by next Tuesday, July 31.
So let’s look at some hot, trendy and intriguing names to watch this week.
Jason Kubel: Arizona Diamondbacks
Kubel has been blazing hot of late, hitting six home runs in the past week to push him past the 20-HR plateau.
After battling an injury early in the week, Kubel has been a force ever since he returned to the lineup on July 18. Since that time, Kubel is 9-22 with 11 RBI’s and eight runs scored as well.
With quality matchups on deck at home this week vs. Colorado (Jonathan Sanchez, Drew Pomeranz and Jeff Francis) and the reeling Mets (Matt Harvey, Jonathan Niese, Chris Young and R.A. Dickey), Kubel is primed for a big week.
James Shields: Tampa Bay Rays
There is increasing talk that Shields may be shipped out of Tampa by the trade deadline.
While Shields’ home run rate is alarming, he is at least striking out a good deal of batters. His 124 strikeouts place him fifth in the AL.
Thursday’s start in Baltimore could well be Shields’ last start as a Ray (if he is not traded before then). Reportedly, the Tigers and Angels seem to be interested
Zack Greinke: Milwaukee Brewers
Another pitcher with an outside shot of being traded before the deadline could be the Brewers’ ace Zack Greinke.
While Greinke has not been all that dominant this year, he is still a front line starter who many teams (Yankees, Dodgers, Angels, Tigers, etc.) would love to have.
With a two start week (@Philadelphia, vs. Washington) to put his talents on display, Greinke is a player to keep your eye on.
Ian Kennedy: Arizona Diamondbacks
It hasn’t been the best of times this year for Kennedy after his breakout season last year. However, it appears Kennedy has found his groove again, as he is pitched a gem in his last start vs. the Reds, pitching eight innings while allowing only one run on eight hits and no walks and striking out seven batters.
With two starts at home against two struggling teams (Rockies, Mets) Kennedy is a pitcher to trust this week.
Francisco Liriano: Minnesota Twins
Liriano is yet another pitcher who may be switching teams before next Tuesday’s deadline.
Liriano has been putting up some impressive numbers of late, yet not getting many victories to show for it. Ever since he was reinserted back into the rotation, Liriano has posted eight quality outings in ten starts. In that time, Liriano has struck out 77 batters, but has also issued an unhealthy 28 walks.
If Liriano goes to a contender, you can expect a lot more wins. For now, Liriano is scheduled to make two starts (@Chicago, vs. Cleveland) and hence a lot of eyes will be on him this week.
Jose Quintana: Chicago White Sox
Originally slated to be a stop-gap option in the rotation, Quintana is making his case to stay in the rotation with his stellar run of late.
Ever since being placed into the rotation, Quintana is 3-1 while throwing five quality starts in eight games. In fact, in that stretch Quintana has pitched three 8-inning scoreless starts.
With another two starts (vs. Minnesota, @Texas), Quintana should be active in most leagues this week.
Adrian Gonzalez: Boston Red Sox
After a somewhat disappointing first half, Gonzalez is breaking out the lumber in the second half. Ever since the break, Gonzalez is 14-32 with three home runs, 13 RBI’s and six runs. With this streak, Gonzalez is finally solidifying his early-round draft status.
This week Gonzalez and the Red Sox have some tough matchups on the road vs. the Rangers (Scott Feldman, Colby Lewis and Derek Holland) and the Yankees (Phil Hughes, CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda), but he still is someone to believe in while he is this hot.
Danny Espinosa: Washington Nationals
With Ian Desmond going down with an oblique injury, the hot-hitting Espinosa will get the chance to gain eligibility at shortstop. If Espinosa gains shortstop eligibility, his value will go through the roof. Espinosa is riding an 8-game hitting streak, in which he has gone 14-31 with one home run, two doubles, one triple and five RBI’s.
Although Espinosa has some tough matchups on the road vs. the Mets (Chris Young, R.A. Dickey and Jeremy Hefner) and the Brewers (Yovani Gallardo, Mike Fiers, Randy Wolf and Zack Greinke), he is hot enough for you to ride him while he is on the fast track to become eligible at shortstop.
Miguel Cabrera: Detroit Tigers
What a shock! Miguel Cabrera is hot again. In his last 11 games, Cabrera is 16-43 with five home runs, eight RBI’s and 12 runs scored.
With a six-game slate on the road against the mediocre staffs of Cleveland (Ubaldo Jimenez, Derek Lowe and Zach McAllister) and Toronto (Carlos Villanueva, Henderson Alvarez and Brett Cecil), Cabrera should be in line for another monster week.
Ryan Zimmerman: Washington Nationals
Much like Gonzalez, Zimmerman is making up for lost time with a hot streak to end July.
Ever since the all-star break Zimmerman has been a changed man going 20-42 with six home runs, three doubles, 10 RBI’s and 11 runs scored.
Despite the same tough matchups as Espinosa, Zimmerman has one again become a must-start option and a player who should have the full trust of his owners.
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