What to Watch - Wednesday July 20, 2016
As the trade deadline approaches urgency is often dictated by a snap shot of recent performance. A team concerns could be calmed by a short stretch of success by a player or at a position or they could panic if things look like they could be headed the other way. Here are a few players to watch on tonights slate.
Bud Norris, Los Angeles Dodgers
Since June fourth Norris has shown some flashes of dare I say, decency? I know thats not a perfect word but it sounds good and Norris, for the most part, has been decent. In six starts, June 4 - July 1, Norris pitched 34.1 innings and allowed only seven earned runs and nine walks. That kind of performance won't win the Dodgers a world series, but it could be essential if they are to win the National League West or the Wild Card, especially with Kershaw's return date very much in doubt. In his two recent starts, against Baltimore and Arizona, he was only able to last five innings in each start and he allowed seven earned. If Norris continues to go south then the Dodgers will be forced to extend Julio Urias' innings limit, promote Jose De Leon or make a panic move and overpay in an extremely pricey starting pitching trade market or some combination of all three. Tonight "The Watch" begins against Gio Gonzalez, Bryce Harper and the Washington Nationals.
Matt Cain, San Francisco Giants
Cain hasn't been good this season, or last for that matter, and you would think that the team with the best record in baseball wouldn't have much of their season determined by Matt Cain and maybe it won't be, but it could. Bumgarner, Cueto and how consistent Jeff Samardzija can be are the keys to the Giants World Series chances, but there is a feeling around baseball that the Giants record (57-37) isn't a perfect reflection of how good, or how mediocre, this team is. They lost in their first game against the Red Sox last night with #4 starter Jake Peavy and they have #5 starter Matt Cain going tonight to avoid the two game sweep. The Giants have a four game lead on the Dodgers for the West division and if they are going to win the division and avoid the one game wild card playoff, Matt Cain and Jake Peavy will be important or a trade will be required. We will see tonight at Fenway park against the slugging Red Sox how Cain's second half might go.
Michael Pineda, New York Yankees
Everyone assumes the Yankee's are going to be sellers and Pineda has been rumored, due to the scarcity of the starting pitching trade market, to possibly be of interest to teams. He is coming off back to back five earned run performances so he hasn't put his best foot forward recently and his 5.56 ERA and 1.37 Whip don't speak well for his season on the whole. That being said, he has an above average arm and a plus slider on his better days that could spark some interest, especially if he can put together a good showing against the power hitting Orioles in the Bronx tonight
Jeremy Hellickson, Philadelphia Phillies
Because the market for starting pitchers is so limited and so barren, Hellickson has become an intriguing possibility for contending teams. There were reports that the Boston Red Sox kicked the tires and his opponent tonight, the Miami Marlins, have been the most recent team taking a peak. There are a lot of teams that could use a serviceable starter to get to the finish line and qualify for playoff baseball and Hellickson has a chance to be a good mix of performance and price to be a hot possibility for teams. Dare I say "Bidding War for Hellickson?" - Tonight the Marlins will get a birds-eye view.
Yasiel Puig, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
Recent reports outed Yasiel Puig as possibly available in a trade and speculation is that the Dodgers should be more than willing to pay teams to be willing to take him. That doesn't make for a great return for the Dodgers, but if Puig can get the bat going then maybe teams will focus on his cannon arm and elite athleticism and ignore the inconsistency and the attitude issues that have plagued him. Puig hasn't homered since the fireworks of July fourth and he has three home runs since May 20. He is batting .256 for the season with an OPS of .695. He is hardly an attractive option for someone right now, but if he can get things going maybe the right amount of financial incentive will allow the Dodgers to move on in a trade that could make them better simply because Puig is no longer near them.
Prince Fielder and Mitch Moreland, Texas Rangers
Four home runs combined in the last 30 days with OPS' of .765 and .622 respectively. Jurickson Profar is playing some innings at first base and there have been rumors that he may try his glove in the outfield. Rumors suggest Joey Gallo could be the big piece that the Rangers trade to upgrade the rotation for a run at the World Series. If Fielder and Moreland can show some semblance of power it would make it easier for the Rangers to move Gallo or possibly even Profar. If they continue to be a power bust the Rangers may be stealing from Peter to pay Paul in any trade involving Profar or Gallo and that might not be enough to get them over the hump and into the World Series. They face Hector Santiago and the Los Angeles Angels tonight.
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