With another chapter of interleague games in the books, teams are set to get back to their normal routines this week.
As we inch closer to the All-Star Break, this will be the time when the contenders start separating themselves from the pretenders.
So, let’s look at some trendy, hot and intriguing names to watch for the week.
Ryan Braun: Milwaukee Brewers
The reigning NL MVP is in one nice groove right now.
Braun is working on an 18-game hitting streak and is absolutely torching the ball in June. Braun is batting .346 in June with six home runs and 16 RBI’s.
Braun and the Brewers face off against the Reds (Mat Latos, Bronson Arroyo and Homer Bailey) on the road this week before heading back home to take on the Diamondbacks (Ian Kennedy, Wade Miley and Daniel Hudson).
Trevor Bauer: Arizona Diamondbacks
The uber-pitching prospect Bauer is likely going to make his major league debut this week. After pitching only 2 2/3 innings in his last minor league start on Sunday, the Diamondbacks are expected to recall Bauer for their matchup with the Braves on Thursday.
Armed with an above-average fastball and changeup, Bauer should be scooped up in all leagues, as he has the makeup of an ace-in-waiting.
As if you didn’t know already.
Kevin Youkilis: Chicago White Sox
The Red Sox did what they have been trying to do for months when they finally traded the embattled Youkilis to the White Sox on Sunday.
Youkilis has not been the same this year while battling various ailments. However, a change of scenery may do him some good.
Youkilis and the White Sox will get set to face the Twins (Francisco Liriano, Liam Hendriks and Nick Blackburn) at home before heading to the Bronx for a matchup with the Yankees (Ivan Nova, , Hiroki Kuroda and Phil Hughes) to end the week.
Will Middlebrooks: Boston Red Sox
As one chapter ends in Boston, one is just about to begin in earnest, as the Youkilis trade will open the door for Middlebrooks to take seize of the third base job with no issue now.
Middlebrooks is sizzling hot too, going 10-18 with three home runs, 11 RBI’s and seven runs scored in his last eight games.
Middlebrooks and the Red Sox will have some juicy matchups this week with three games against the Blue Jays (Henderson Alvarez, Aaron Laffey and Ricky Romero) at home before a four game series in Seattle (Felix Hernandez, Hector Noesi, Erasmo Ramirez and Jason Vargas) to end the week.
Colby Rasmus: Toronto Blue Jays
It took a long time, but Rasmus is finally finding a comfort zone in Toronto.
Rasmus is red hot and is 13-34 in his last nine games, while also going deep four times and driving in 12 runs in the process.
Rasmus and the Blue Jays will square off against the Red Sox (Felix Doubront, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Jon Lester) and the Angels (Dan Haren, Ervin Santana, Garret Richards and C.J. Wilson) this week.
Chase Utley: Philadelphia Phillies
With the Phillies spiraling out of control and quickly losing ground in the NL East standings, they will at least welcome back one of their biggest bats this week when they are expected to activate Utley for Wednesday’s game against the Pirates (A.J. Burnett).
There should be a lot of rust attached to Utley’s game, but the Phillies desperately need his bat in the lineup. This week should be used as an evaluation period to see how Utley fares upon his comeback.
To end the week, Utley and the Phils will head to Miami to face their struggling staff (Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle and Ricky Nolasco).
Jake Peavy: Chicago White Sox
The under-appreciated Peavy is making a bid this season for both an All-Star selection as well as Comeback Player of the Year.
Peavy is 6-3 on the year with an impressive 2.74 ERA and 0.94 WHIP.
Even though he has a tough matchup on Saturday at New York, his first matchup on Monday in Minnesota should no doubt make him a must-start for most fantasy owners.
Ryan Vogelsong: San Francisco Giants
With Tim Lincecum being a shell of his old self, it has been Vogelsong who has helped anchor the Giants’ staff alongside Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner all year long.
Vogelsong is proving last year was no fluke and is 6-3 on the year with a terrific 2.41 ERA and 1.15 WHIP.
Vogelsong will have two starts at home this week, with the first coming on Tuesday against the Dodgers before facing off against the Reds on Sunday.
James McDonald: Pittsburgh Pirates
McDonald has been a popular pickup off the waiver wire for the last month or so, as he has finally started to harness his control.
McDonald is also making a bid for inclusion on the NL All Star team, as he 6-3 on the year with a splendid 2.19 ERA and 0.95 WHIP. McDonald’s 83 strikeout to 24 walk ratio is what separates himself from the pack, though.
McDonald will also have two starts this week, although both will be on the road this week (@Philadelphia and @St. Louis).
Felix Doubront: Boston Red Sox
With the Red Sox banged up and getting so-so production from its staff, it has been Doubront who has been a godsend for Boston this year.
Doubront is 8-3 with a respectable 4.31 ERA. Doubront’s 85 strikeouts also place him in the Top 10 in the AL.
With two starts this week (vs. Toronto and @Seattle), this would be a good week to ride Doubront.
Follow me on Twitter @Stacdemon