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We are more than halfway into the shortened season and only St. Louis has played fewer than 30 games (26) while San Diego and Seattle have played the most (37).

Remember that in 2020, eight teams in each league will make the playoffs — the top two teams in each of the three divisions plus the two teams with the next best records.

Through Monday the American League Division qualifiers would be Chicago, Cleveland, Houston, New York, Oakland and Tampa Bay. The two Wild Card teams would be Minnesota and Toronto. Interestingly enough, those are the only AL teams currently with winning records.

The National League Division qualifiers would be Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Diego and St. Louis. The sixth qualifier would be either Miami or Philadelphia, which are tied for second in the NL East. The two Wild Cards would be either the Phillies or Marlins plus Colorado. Unlike the AL, only four teams had winning records through Monday. Three others were at .500 with the Rockies a game below break even.

Monday also marked the trade deadline and there was more activity than many expected. San Diego and Toronto appear to be the biggest winners.

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Toronto strengthened its starting rotation with the acquisitions of Taijuan Walker, Ross Stripling and Robbie Ray. The Blue Jays also bolstered their offense and their defensive versatility by acquiring Jonathan Villar.

San Diego landed the best starting pitcher on the market and it came as a surprise to many as Cleveland traded Mike Clevinger. The Padres also added veteran first baseman Mitch Moreland and closer Trevor Rosenthal who’s enjoyed a resurgence with Kansas City.

The Padres’ farm system is deep and they managed to retain several of their top prospects. They’re making a run for a World Series title this season and some wonder if San Diego is pulling a James Holzhauer by going “all in” for 2020, putting potential long-term success in jeopardy.

As to Cleveland, Clevinger had violated pandemic protocols during a road trip to Chicago. He was quarantined and missed two weeks, drawing criticism from teammates. The Tribe is in the thick of a three-team AL Central race, suggesting this move may have been more to maintain team chemistry as opposed to providing equal value in immediate assistance.

Cincinnati and Philadelphia each made trades to strengthen leaky bullpens.

With roughly 25 games remaining for most teams only a handful of teams can be considered out of the race for even a Wild Card. Boston, the L.A. Angels and Texas are at least nine games below .500 in the AL. Pittsburgh is similarly struggling in the NL. Defending World Series champion Washington has the second-worst record behind the Pirates and World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg is lost for the season to injury.

Here are three selections for later this week.


White Sox at Royals: Although Lucas Giolito and Dallas Keuchel are the leaders of Chicago’s starting rotation, 24-year-old Dylan Cease is developing nicely. He’s not a power pitcher and does have control issues but his stats are much improved over his 2019 rookie season.

With a solid repertoire of off-speed pitches, his maturation should continue and control will become less of a concern. The Royals are one of baseball’s least productive teams, averaging 4.0 runs per game. Chicago is one of the best at 5.3 rpg. CEASE over Royals


Astros at Angels: Depending on matchups we could have two plays. Currently Houston’s Zack Greinke is scheduled to oppose the Angels’ Dylan Bundy. Both starters have fashioned solid seasons. Each have ERAs in the 2.50 range with identical WHIPs of 0.94, allowing less than a baserunner per inning. Each averages roughly 6 innings per start with strikeout-to-walk ratios of better than 4-to-1.

When looking to play first five-inning Unders, I like to back a pair of quality pitchers averaging more than 5.5 innings per start. UNDER first five innings if Bundy faces Greinke. Otherwise play on Bundy and Greinke in separate starts.


Diamondbacks at Giants: Expected to contend for the playoffs, Arizona has disappointed. With a Season Wins Total of 31.5, the Diamondbacks stand 14-21 and were sellers.

One of the bright spots for the Diamondbacks has been Taylor Clarke. Making 15 starts in his 2019 debut, he’d pitched out of the bullpen at the start of this season. He made a pair of solid starts last week when Madison Bumgarner went on the IL. With the deadline trade of Robbie Ray the rotation spot may be Clarke’s to keep.

His most recent start was Sunday against the Giants. He pitched five strong innings and appears ready to be extended going forward. CLARKE over GIANTS.

Last week: 1-2

Season: 10-6

About the Author

Andy Iskoe

Owner and author of “The Logical Approach,” Andy Iskoe has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football.

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