We talked about the trade deadline in last week's column and many of the names I had written about are now wearing new uniforms this week. But there were quite a few surprises and certainly some trade winners and some trade losers.
To me, no team improved in every area as much as the Padres, which picked up pitchers Mike Clevinger, Trevor Rosenthal, Austin Adams, Dan Altavilla and Taylor Williams, along with first baseman/DH Mitch Moreland, catchers Jason Castro and Austin Nola plus outfielder Greg Allen.
The Reds, which are dearly underachieving, added RHP Archie Bradley and OF Brian Goodwin.
With the Yankees sliding in the AL East, the Blue Jays made some big moves. They now have LHP Robbie Ray, RHPs Taijuan Walker and Ross Stripling, 1B/DH Daniel Vogelback and IF Jonathan Villar.
Fighting for the AL Central's top spot, the Indians certainly bolstered their team with C Austin Hedges, 1B/OF Josh Naylor, RHP Cal Quantrill, SS Gabriel Arias, IF Owen Miller and LHP Joey Cantillo.
The Cubs beefed up their squad with DH José Martínez, OF Cameron Maybin and LHPs Andrew Chafin and Josh Osich.
Joe Girardi and the Phillies should improve with the acquisition of four RHPs: Brandon Workman, Heath Hembree, David Phelps and David Hale. The Marlins picked up arguably the best position player in OF Sterling Marte.
It may not seem like much right now but the Red Sox accomplished quite a bit by trading some big names, some big paychecks, and adding to their farm system.
In my opinion, the following teams could have bettered themselves with a new face or two however, stood pat:
The Brewers, which have a shot at the postseason, did not look to beef up their ailing offense. The Astros desperately need help in their bullpen. The Braves need some temporary help until their pitching staff gets healthy. The Yankees absolutely need one reliable starter and some heavy bats until some of their power returns from injury. The Rays, which maybe are just atop the AL East because of their domination of the Yankees, have 11 injured pitchers, five of which are gone for the remainder of the season.
Obviously there were more trades than these. But to me, these were the biggest winners and losers this deadline.
Speaking of winners and losers, I am 5-2 in my releases the last three weeks. Here are this week's Best Bets (all records, stats, and trends are as of Tuesday and may change as can starting pitchers):
Cubs at Pirates: In the earliest game on the Thursday board, it looks to be Yu Darvish and JT Brubaker going in this matchup. Obviously, with these two division rivals at opposite ends of the NL Central, the Cubs will come in here a big favorite.
Darvish has pitched lights out, sporting a 6-1 record with an ERA of 1.47, 52 K's and just eight BB's. The Osaka-born pitcher notched a win already this season in his only start against the Pirates, going six strong innings, allowing just two hits and zero runs back on July 31. By the way, he fanned seven batters in that contest.
In six appearances (four starts), Brubaker is 0-0, with a 4.50 ERA. But it really doesn't matter who is throwing for Pittsburgh. This is a team mustering just 4.00 RPG. They have had their problems with Chicago, dropping 12 of the last 16 meetings.
The Cubs come in here with confidence, as they are one of the NL's best road teams (10-6 away) and have swept the Pirates, 3-0 in 2020, outscoring them 12-7.
We have experienced a lot of pitching changes thus far this season. So, if Darvish goes, you can expect a line about $1.80 or higher. If he goes, take Chicago on the run line. If he doesn't, the line will be lower and we can take them on the money line. CUBS
Padres at Angels: Wow, the Padres were just about the busiest team this trade deadline, which tells us they are making a real run for the playoffs.
Is this the game we see newly acquired Mike Clevinger get his first start in a San Diego uniform? Right now, we only know Los Angeles has scheduled Andrew Heaney (2-2, 4.62 ERA). Whoever pitches for either side, the Padres are still the strong play here.
Winning their last two and seven of their last 10, San Diego is only 4.5 GB of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West and they are surging. Very quietly, this team now owns baseball's top-scoring offense (5.70 RPG). They also rank third in Team BA (.266), second in HR's (67), and second in SB's (31). This lineup is scary.
We didn't expect too much from the Angels this season, and believe it or not they have fallen short of those low expectations (last place in the AL West at 12-20).
Once again, if the money line is suitable, play San Diego. But, if the line skyrockets, play them on the run line. PADRES
White Sox at Royals: Right now, the young and talented White Sox are the most-feared squad by every other team in the AL. Chicago has shredded just about every opponent they have faced this season. But, they have absolutely dominated Kansas City, taking five of six matchups, lighting up the Royals for an average of 6.5 RPG.
Starting pitchers have not been named yet, but five different White Sox starters have already earned victories over the Royals in this short 2020 season, so it won't matter who gets the nod here. This is a very potent team with a dangerous lineup and an equally talented pitching staff.
They take the AL's best away record (11-4) on the road to Kauffman Stadium here where Kansas City is just 7-7. The Royals offense has been erratic at best, ranking 26th (4.03 RPG).
The White Sox are 20-8 the last 28 as a road favorite. The Royals are 1-4 the last five vs. the AL Central. WHITE SOX RUN LINE
Last week: 0-1