With the calendar turning to August and the trade deadline to pass this week, this will be an interesting week to digest.
The wheels have been set in motion as the Angels acquired Zack Greinke; the White Sox plucked Francisco Liriano from the Twins; and the Dodgers traded for Hanley Ramirez. You can expect many more deals to happen by Tuesday.
To borrow a poker term, many teams will be forced to either “go all in” or “fold.” So this could be an exciting and revealing week all in one.
So let’s look at some hot, trendy and intriguing names to watch this week.
David Price: Tampa Bay Ray
The Rays appear to be stuck between a rock and hard place, deciding if they should be buyers or sellers. If they do decide to give it a run they will be led by the exploits of David Price.
Price is keeping the Rays in it with his outstanding numbers, and if the season ended today he could potentially be this year’s AL Cy Young winner. Price leads the entire AL in wins (14), is second in ERA (2.57) while also placing sixth in strikeouts (130).
This could be an important week for Price and the Rays. It’s a good thing that Price toes the rubber in two starts (@Oakland, vs. Baltimore) this week.
Hanley Ramirez: Los Angeles Dodgers
Ramirez has taken a liking to his new team, as he has hit safely in his first six games with the Dodgers (and seven overall).
Perhaps Ramirez will feel rejuvenated being part of a pennant race and maybe this move can get his game going.
With a six-game slate and all games at home vs. Arizona (Trevor Cahill, Wade Miley and Josh Collmenter) and Chicago (Jeff Samardzija, Paul Maholm and TBD), you could easily see Ramirez ramp up his production this week.
Starling Marte: Pittsburgh Pirates
Marte, the Pirates’ uber-prospect, has hit the ground running and will give the suddenly now-challenging Pirates a shot in the arm.
While Marte is not off to a terrific start (4-18), he does have one home run, two RBI, three runs and a stolen base to his credit.
This week Marte and Pirates will have a six-game road trip with stops at Chicago (TBD, Ryan Dempster and Travis Wood) and Cincinnati (Mat Latos, Mike Leake and Homer Bailey).
Jayson Werth: Washington Nationals
It is expected that Werth will be activated off the DL sometime in the middle of the week and his activation will give the Nats another power bat.
With the move, Werth is expected to man center field and both he and Bryce Harper could rotate in that position until Werth gets his timing down.
The Nationals say that Werth will not be active Tuesday, but he could be back for some of the Phillies’ (Cliff Lee, Vance Worley and Cole Hamels) series and he’ll most likely be around for the Marlins’ (Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle and Ricky Nolasco) series.
Ben Sheets: Atlanta Braves
Sheets has been a revelation for the Braves this year and as a result many people are flocking to the waiver wire to nab the once-dominant hurler. Sheets has only given up one run in his three starts (18 IP) and has won all of his decisions. Sheets has also struck out 15 batters while allowing just five walks.
Facing the weak, deteriorated and gimpy Marlins at home this week, Sheets makes for a fantastic start.
A.J. Griffin: Oakland A’s
Griffin is yet another talented A’s rookie pitcher turning some heads this year.
Ever since he came up on June 24, Griffin has posted six quality starts in a row (while winning his last three decisions) and has become a popular pickup off the waiver wire. Griffin now sports a 2.25 ERA and a sterling 0.97 WHIP.
With a two-start week that includes games at home vs. Tampa Bay and Toronto, Griffin has to be considered a must start.
Shin-Soo Choo: Cleveland Indians
There is chatter that the Indians may be willing to deal some of their assets, with Choo being at the top of their list. Choo is 6-23 in his last seven games with one home run and two RBI’s.
For now, Choo remains an Indian and this week they’ll take on the Royals (Luke Hochevar, Luis Mendoza and Jeremy Guthrie) and Tigers (Anibal Sanchez, Doug Fister and Max Scherzer) on the road this week.
Marco Estrada: Milwaukee Brewers
Although Estrada is not that great at limiting the damage (4.52 ERA) when he allows runners on base (1.14 WHIP), he does get enough strikeouts (75 K’s in 67.2 IP) to be a useful mixed-league starter.
With two starts (vs. Houston, @ St. Louis) this week, Estrada is pitcher worth trusting.
Josh Johnson: Miami Marlins
With the Marlins all but conceding and raising the white flag, the next player to go could be their ace Josh Johnson.
Johnson has had a so-so year, winning only winning six games and sporting a 4.14 ERA.
However, much like Ramirez, perhaps Johnson can feel revitalized by joining a contender and you can bet there are plenty of clubs wanting his services.
Johnson did not do well in his last start on Sunday (issuing six walks in five innings in a no-decision), but plenty of teams would love his power arm.
For now, Johnson is scheduled to pitch at Washington on Friday.
Billy Butler: Kansas City Royals
While his value is a bit diminished by playing only DH, Butler has been hitting too good to be ignored.
In his last nine games Butler is 15-33 with two home runs, three doubles and eight RBI’s. For the year Butler is batting .306 with 20 home runs and 64 RBI’s.
This week Butler and the Royals will take on the Indians (Derek Lowe, Zach McAllister and Josh Tomlin) and the Rangers (Scott Feldman, Roy Oswalt and Derek Holland) at home.
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