No team, no matter how solid they are, would ever tell you that they have no room for improvement.
The Major League Baseball regular season is just over a month old, and believe it or not, the trade deadline is less than a week away. Teams will have until August 31, and only until August 31, to decide whether they should add, subtract or stand pat. More importantly, teams will be deciding this week whether they are going to make a run of it or start planning for next season.
Technically, no team is out of the playoff race. But, with half the regular season in the rear view mirror, we certainly have a feel for the playoff picture and which teams are in need of some new talent.
Just to give you an example, look no further than last season’s World Series combatants. The Houston Astros are sitting in second place in the AL West, 3.5 games behind the Oakland A’s, barely playing .500 ball (16-13). The reigning champs, the Washington Nationals, are tied for last place in the NL East, four back at a disappointing 11-15. Houston is currently without its top pitcher, the injured Justin Verlander.
Washington is a mess all around and just this week, lost Stephen Strasburg for the season. To be honest, he wasn’t producing anyway. Both teams, like many, are in serious need of some help.
It’s hard to believe, but word around the league is that no player wants to be traded during the current health crisis, even if it means going to a playoff-bound team.
Which teams are going to put players on the block? Reports are that the Pirates, Red Sox, Royals, Angels, Tigers, Orioles and Marlins will have players going out the door with possibly the Giants and Rangers also seeing players depart.
Which teams will be looking to better their rosters? Just about everyone else. You might even see one or two of the above teams pick up some new blood.
I am going to make a few bold predictions here. I feel the only two teams that are thoroughly happy and content with their current rosters are the A’s and the Chicago White Sox and I doubt they will make any moves. On the flip side, Pittsburgh may be the busiest team this week.
Aaron Boone weighs in on where the Yankees stand as the the upcoming MLB trade deadline approaches. pic.twitter.com/rYDAQ3uwwT
— YES Network (@YESNetwork) August 25, 2020
Some teams will stand pat so they can either see how the season plays out or look to lock up a player or two long-term in the off-season. Don’t be surprised if you see the team with the best overall record in baseball, the Los Angeles Dodgers, pick up another big bat and another strong starter.
The biggest name being tossed around right now is Mike Clevinger. The Cleveland Indians are going to shop him and initial reports are that the New York Yankees want him badly.
Here is a list of players (in no particular order) that continuously come up in trade talks and I wouldn’t be surprised if most of them are wearing different uniforms next week: J.D. Martinez, Drew Smyly, Clint Frazier, Kevin Gausman, Taijuan Walker, Mychal Given, Tony Watson, Forrest Whitley, Shin-Soo Choo and Brian Goodwin.
Something that isn’t surprising is my 5-1 mark in my releases the last two weeks. I will do my best to keep winning for us. Here are this week’s Best Bets (all records, stats, and trends are as of Tuesday morning and may change as can starting pitchers):
Mariners at Padres: Seattle is hot, winning three in a row. But, San Diego is hotter, having won seven straight. Here we see one of baseball’s worst road teams (4-11) go into Petco Park and face one of the best home teams (11-4). With expected starters Yusei Kikuchi (0-2, 6.30 ERA in 2020) and Garrett Richards (1-1, 3.52 ERA in 2020), I must side with the home team here.
The Padres’ offense has exploded for 56 runs during their current win streak and rank second in the Majors, averaging 5.43 RPG. This is a team brimming with confidence after sweeping the Astros.
The Mariners, one of baseball’s most banged up squads, has 13 players sitting on the injury list. Their lackluster lineup ranks 25th (4.13 RPG) and to make matters worse, their pitching staff is just deplorable, ranking 26th (Team ERA of 5.29).
San Diego is 7-1 the last eight meetings in this series, 8-0 the last eight interleague games, and 6-0 the last six home games. I like the pitching matchup here. PADRES
Athletics at Rangers: One of the most pleasant surprises this season has been the Oakland A’s. Sitting atop the AL West and tied for the AL’s best record (20-10), the A’s are a true threat for the pennant. They dropped the series opener, which was the Rangers’ first win in more than a week (Texas had lost eight previous outings).
Oakland sends Chris Bassitt to the hill. The righty is 2-1 with a 2.97 ERA on the campaign and is part of the league’s fifth-ranked pitching staff (Team ERA of 3.54). Jordan Lyles gets the nod at home. The right-hander is 1-3 with a whopping 9.25 ERA. He is no power pitcher (16 K’s in 24.1 IP) and that is exactly what you need to be to face this talented A’s lineup.
Oakland is 8-2 the last 10 meetings in this series, 7-3 the last 10 as a road favorite, and 11-5 the last 16 vs. RH starters. If this line starts to soar, don’t be afraid to go run line. I do like the pitching matchup for sure in this one. ATHLETICS
Cubs at Reds: It looks like Kyle Hendricks will be starting for Chicago. To be honest, in this specific matchup, it doesn’t matter too much which probable pitchers take the mound for either team. Trevor Bauer is the only decent Cincinnati starter and he took the mound this past Monday.
Even if Hendricks doesn’t go, I still like the Cubs here. Their pitching staff has been solid and they are doing something that no other team in the NL Central is doing, they are winning on the road (8-2 away record).
Chicago is 5-0 the last five road games. Cincinnati is 1-4 the last five vs. the NL Central. CUBS
Last week: 2-1