Category: Opinion

New York Yankees: A Great Day to be a Fan

If you are a fan of the New York Yankees, how are you not excited today? The team came from behind to defeat the crosstown rival New York Mets last night by a score of 6-5. If that isn’t enough, you wake up this morning knowing that general manager Brian Cashman has, in a span of a week, taken a farm system that was average to above average depending on the source, to one that is now the envy around baseball. Yes, boys and girls perhaps the rest of the 2016 season won’t bring much joy to the fanbase. However, this organization is now nicely set up for next year and beyond, assuming at least some of the prospects in the talent-rich system pan out.

Courtesy espn.com

Courtesy espn.com

To those who insisted that Cashman and company were foolish in trading off four veterans to retool and rebuild, I say embrace the change. This team is .500 and has played that way for the majority of the season. There was no magic potion that was going to turn them into this powerhouse contender. If you get swept by the Tampa Bay Rays (no offense, Rays’ fans) in a series late in the season and look really bad doing it, you are probably not ready to survive the heat of a pennant race. Still, even with the trades, this isn’t a terrible team. The return of Tyler Clippard gives Dellin Betances a legitimate setup man in front of him. While the current relievers obviously can’t match the departed Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman, they will have nights like last night, when they tossed 4 1/3 scoreless innings. No Carlos Beltran makes a below average unit worse but that just leaves more opportunities for Ben Gamel and whoever else they decide to bring up in four weeks.

Think about all of the talent the Yankees acquired. Then pair them up with guys they have drafted and signed on their own, players like Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Jorge Mateo and James Kaprielian. These guys are can’t miss-type prospects. Clint Frazier and Gleyber Torres are now ahead of them in the organizational rankings. Frazier is already at AAA and figures to be in New York in 2017, while the same can be said of Judge. Sanchez has already seen Major League time while Mateo, Torres and Kaprielian are still a ways away. If you are old enough to remember, isn’t this how the most recent dynasty was built in the early 1990’s? You know, the “Core Four” that everyone seems to wax nostalgic about these days? Surely, those early-to mid-90’s teams had their share of veterans like Don Mattingly and Paul O’Neill, the latter acquired in a trade prior to the 1992 season. They also supplemented their youth brigade with the signing of players such as Wade Boggs and Jimmy Key and taking the final steps by trading for a David Cone or a John Wetteland. But it was the “Core Four” along with Bernie Williams that sustained the Yankees for such a long time. That’s what prospects do. They contribute by becoming a player for you or for someone else. In the offseason, if they so desire, the Yanks can attempt to package some of these high-end prospects for Chris Sale or a player of his caliber. Even if that type of deal is made, their farm system will still have some big-time players ready in the wings.

The only people who should be disappointed are the players still on the Yankees this year. Guys like Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez who may not be here next year and who will most likely not get a shot at the playoffs in their final year in Pinstripes. As for the others that were traded, think of it as an opportunity for them. The only thing that has eluded Beltran is a World Series title. He gets that shot in Texas; he wasn’t going to, barring some miracle, in New York. As a fan, did you have any special affinity for Chapman? Ivan Nova gets a new life in Pittsburgh. The one that hurts is Miller because he was popular in the clubhouse and he is under contract for the next two seasons. However, that was potentially the biggest return out of the four trades. It’s one that had to be made in order for the Yankees to take the next step forward. It’s all the more reason why as you go about your day today, you feel great as a fan of the New York Yankees.

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New York Yankees vs. New York Mets: A Quick Preview

To say that the participants of the Subway Series are stumbling is an understatement. The New York Yankees, who looked primed for a playoff chase at this time last week, have dropped four games in a row, including a sweep at the hands of the Tampa Bay Rays. The New York Mets just went 2-5 against the St. Louis Cardinals and Colorado Rockies at home and the injuries continue to mount with shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera the latest to get hit.  The bottom line is as the calender turns to August (August!) both the Mets and Yankees face a difficult path to postseason baseball with some arguing the Yankees have already given up that hope with the trades of Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller.

Before I continue, I need to digress. I liked it much better when the Subway Series was played over the course of two months, three weekend games in Citi Field in say, June with three weekend games at Yankee Stadium in July. They just felt different and more important split up that way as opposed to the current format of four total games, two in each ballpark, all in one week.  In my opinion, the meetings between the two teams have lost some luster. But that’s just me.

Courtesy: nbcnewyork

Courtesy: nbcnewyork

The opener at Citi Field on Monday has C.C. Sabathia pitching against Logan Verrett. The Yanks wouldn’t mind if they were able to deal a third pitcher out of town but with the the big lefty’s contract situation, any trade would result in the Yanks’ taking on a hefty portion of his contract. He was solid in his last outing, allowing two runs in 6 2/3 innings against the Houston Astros. Meanwhile, Verrett has had some good outing for a #5 starter allowing seven earned runs in his last 19 1/3 innings, a span covering three starts. On Tuesday, it is a battle of aces as Masahiro Tanaka opposes Jacob deGrom. Tanaka is 7-3 with a 3.19 ERA and perhaps most importantly, is on pace to start 30 games for the first time in Pinstripes. deGrom continues to get no run support, “earning” a no-decision in his last time out despite throwing seven shutout innings. He is 6-5 with a 2.65 ERA. ‘

On Wednesday, the two teams hook up in the Bronx with Steven Matz scheduled to face Ivan Nova. I use the term “scheduled” as Nova’s name has popped up in trade discussions as he is set to become a free agent at season’s end. He also did not endear himself to Yankee management with his semi-meltdown during Friday night’s loss in Tampa. Nova is 7-6 with a 4.90 ERA. Matz’s season line of 8-7 with a 3.35 ERA is excellent; however, he has really struggled since being diagnosed with bone chips. The lefty is 1-4 with a 4.43 ERA over his last seven outings. In the finale on Thursday, it will be Bartolo Colon to face Nathan Eovaldi. The Mets tried using Colon on three days rest and it worked for three innings on Saturday before two errors doomed him to defeat. Still, Big Bart has been tremendous, tied for the team lead in wins with nine to go along with a 3.58 ERA in 22 outings. Eovaldi’s name has also come up in trade rumors, namely with the Pittsburgh Pirates. The hard-throwing righty is 9-7 with a 4.78 ERA, numbers that earned him a brief bullpen demotion in July. He hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs since his return to the rotation but he has also not pitched seven full innings during that time, either.

Both teams employ feeble offenses. They rank in the bottom portion of Major League Baseball in runs scored, batting average and on-base percentage. The Mets are ninth in home runs but are 19th in slugging percentage and dead last in batting average. I don’t need to tell you how awful they are with runners in scoring position. The Yanks are 28th in slugging, ahead of only the Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves. The Yanks are 23rd in OBP while the Mets are 24th. Come Monday night, the Yankees could be without their best offensive player as Carlos Beltran‘s name continues to swirl in the trade winds. The best Met offensive player, Yoenis Cespedes, has been slowed by a quad injury. All of these dreadful statistics can mean only one thing for the 2016 edition of the Subway Series: lots of runs will be scored over the next four games.

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New York Mets’ Trade Rumors: Joe Smith

Despite a woeful offense, it seems the only deal the New York Mets are interested in that moment (outside of a flirtation with Jonathan Lucroy), is one for a reliever. Recently, I attempted to help general manager Sandy Alderson by recommending in one post Brad Ziegler and in another one Joaquin Benoit. It was a game but futile effort as both players were eventually dealt elsewhere as Ziegler went to the Boston Red Sox and Benoit landed with the Toronto Blue Jays. Now word comes that Alderson and company might actually be ready to strike.

Photo by Rick Yeatts/Getty Images

Photo by Rick Yeatts/Getty Images

According to Marc Craig at Newsday (via mlbtraderumors), the Mets and Los Angeles Angels are discussing veteran reliever Joe Smith:

The side-arming right-hander, originally taken by the Mets in the third round of the 2006 Draft, is in the final year of a three-year, $15.75 million dollar contract he signed with the Angels prior to the 2014 season. He was brilliant that season, with a 1.81 ERA and 15 saves in 76 games and was forced to close when Huston Street was injured as Los Angeles captured the American League West title. The last two seasons haven’t been as pretty with a 3.58 ERA in 70 appearances last year and a 3.96 ERA in 37 games so far in 2016. However, his struggles this year could be the result of a stint on the disabled list because of a hamstring injury and right now he has seven consecutive scoreless outings.

Given New York’s futility at the dish, one would think the organization would do something to fix that. However, the asking price for Lucroy and even Steve Pearce (according to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick and mlbtraderumors) is a bit high for the Mets so they are better off more affordable options. One place to start would be the bullpen where even Jeurys Familia has been vulnerable lately.

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New York Yankees vs. Tampa Bay Rays: A Quick Preview

The New York Yankees just missed out on sweeping the Houston Astros, one of the teams they are chasing in the playoff hunt, dropping the finale by a score 0f 4-1. After a day off, they continue on this six game road trip with three contests with the Tampa Bay Rays. Tampa also was off on Thursday, having just completed a nine game, three city road trip out west, finishing with a mark of 4-5. The Rays are now 39-61 and in last place in the American League East. They were having a respectable season up until they dropped 22 out of 25 games leading into the All-Star Break. Now, the only talk surrounding them is who are they going to part with at the trading deadline? The Yanks have taken 4 of 6 so far from them this year.

Courtesy: sportsonearth

Courtesy: sportsonearth

Stat third baseman Evan Longoria, the subject of rumors linking him with the Los Angeles Dodgers, is having a tremendous season. He leads the Rays in just about every offensive category including home runs with 23, which is eighth in all of baseball, along with .340 on-base percentage. Shortstop Brad Miller is having a nice offensive season with 15 home runs and he owns eight hits in last 25 at-bats. Could we be witnessing the final series of Steve Pearce in a Tampa uniform? The veteran has some value as a guy playing multiple positions and is having a solid campaign with a .312 batting average and a .384 OBP in 224 plate appearances. Outfielder Corey Dickerson, acquired in an offseason deal with the Colorado Rockies for reliever Jake McGee, has 14 home runs and has eight hits in his last 28 at-bats. The bottom line is the Rays do have some power as they are tied for tenth in home runs but rank near the bottom in OBP and runs scored.

Right-hander Jake Odorizzi gets the ball in the opener and will oppose Ivan Nova. Odorizzi has been linked with several teams, as have most of Tampa’s starters to teams such as the Texas Rangers. He is 4-5 with a 4.10 ERA in 21 starts with his last one a dominant performance. The 26-year old Odorizzi shut out the Oakland A’s over eight innings but took a no decision when the bullpen blew the lead. On Saturday, Drew Smyly will face Nathan Eovaldi. The 27-year old lefty was one of the prizes when David Price was traded to the Detroit Tigers but he has struggled to the tune of a 2-11 record and a 5.42 ERA in 2016. However, one of those wins was at Yankee Stadium, a game I attended, as he held the Yanks to one run over seven innings in an 8-1 Rays’ victory. The finale will have Tampa’s prized youngster Blake Snell facing Michael Pineda, the guy who was Smyly’s opponent back in April.  The 22-year old lefty is 2-4 with a 3.05 ERA in his first eight Major League starts. Over his last 18 2/3 innings, a span covering three starts, Snell has allowed only four earned runs. He is the only Rays’ starting pitcher who hasn’t come up in trade talks as his team won’t be doing any buying this year.

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New York Mets vs. Colorado Rockies: A Quick Preview

The New York Mets lost a devastating two out of three games to the St. Louis Cardinals. Once again, their offense couldn’t get runners home as the team left a total of 18 men on base in the two defeats. With a record of 53-47, they are now 5 1/2 games behind the Washington Nationals in the National League East and still on the outside of the Wild Card picture. Now they play a four game weekend series against the Colorado Rockies, who swept three games from them at Coors Field May 13th-May 15th. The Rockies come in a little wary, having to play a 1:10 PM game on Thursday after playing a 7:05 PM game the previous night in Baltimore. Colorado is on the absolute fringes of the playoff chase with a record of 49-52 and in third place in the National League West but 7-3 over their last ten contests.

Courtesy: espn.com

Courtesy: espn.com

If you follow me on Facebook, you know the affection I have for Colorado third baseman Nolan Arenado. I can make the argument that he is the best all-around player in the National League. He is second in all of baseball in RBI’s with 78 and is tied for fifth in home runs with 26. If the Rockies can get closer to a Wild Card, you should see Arenado’s name mentioned as an MVP candidate. Shortstop Trevor Story is the front runner to win National League Rookie of the Year with 27 homers, tied for third among all Major League hitters. He has six long balls in his last 15 games but is a strikeout machine with 127 whiffs in 404 plate appearances. Second baseman DJ LeMahieu continues to be a force at the plate, hitting .327 which is fifth among all Major League batters. He has nine hits in his last 27 at-bats. Carlos Gonzalez, forever the subject of trade rumors, is having another All-Star season with 20 home runs and 62 RBI’s while batting .317, 11th among all hitters.

On the mound, left-hander Tyler Anderson takes the ball in the opener, facing Jacob deGrom. The 26-year old rookie is 3-3 with a 3.56 ERA in eight starts. Over his last three outings, Anderson has allowed nine earned earns in 18 1/3 innings, striking out 15. On Friday, it will be Tyler Chatwood vs. Steven Matz. The right-hander is 5-0 with a 1.30 ERA in eight starts on the road. One of his few solid home outings came on May 15th against the Mets as he hurled seven innings of three run ball as the Rockies won by a score of 4-3. Chatwood is 9-6 overall with a 3.65 ERA in 18 starts. On Saturday, it will be left-hander Jorge De La Rosa facing off against Bartolo Colon. It’s been a tough year for the veteran with a record of 6-7 with a 5.70 ERA and a brief demotion to the bullpen. However, he had a good outing on Monday vs. the Orioles, allowing only one run on four hits in 6 1/3 innings. The finale on Sunday has right-hander Chad Bettis facing Noah Syndergaard. Bettis is 9-6 with a 5.19 ERA but has been solid over his last three games, allowing five earned runs in 17 1/3 innings, picking up two victories. The Rockies’ bullpen has settled down with rookie right-hander Carlos Estevez becoming the closer. He has allowed three hits and two runs in ten July appearances. The return from Tommy John surgery of power righty Adam Ottavino has also helped. He hasn’t allowed a run and has surrendered only three hits in his first ten appearances.

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New York Yankees: Examining All Players in Both Aroldis Chapman Deals

No Runs DMC is no more for the New York Yankees. On Monday, the Yanks finally pulled the trigger on a deal that sent one of their Big Three relievers to a new location as Aroldis Chapman was sent to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for four players, one of whom is already a familiar face in New York. Reactions on Twitter indicate that Yanks’ general manager Brian Cashman made an outstanding move in securing four players, including two top prospects for a player who is a free agent at the end of the year. Let’s take a look at each of the players that were traded for Chapman, the four the Yanks sent to the Cincinnati Reds and the four obtained by the Bombers from the Cubs.

Courtesy: nydailynews

Courtesy: nydailynews

New York to Cincinnati

Rookie Davis: This 23-year old right-handed pitcher was the Yanks’ 14th round selection in the 2011 Draft out of Dixon High School in Holly Ridge, North Carolina. His highest level in their farm system was Double A which he reached last year, making six appearances. While with Double A Pensacola in 2016, Davis is 8-3 with a 2.68 ERA in 16 starts. He has good control but is not a high strikeout guy. In 84 innings, Davis has allowed only 22 walks while fanning out 48. Numbers like that indicate a promotion to Triple A should be forthcoming.

Eric Jagielo: New York used its first round selection in 2013 on the Notre Dame product who played his amateur career at third base. The 24-year old Jagielo showed some pop in the system with 18 home runs in two different levels of A ball in 2014. The lefty swinger was off to a great start last season for Double A Trenton, with nine home runs, a .284 batting average and a .347 on-base percentage, resulting in a selection to the Eastern League All-Star Game. However, knee surgery ended his season early and the carryover has shown up in Pensacola. He is hitting only .218 with a .308 OBP in 309 plate appearances.

Tony Renda: The 25-year old second baseman was originally taken by the Washington Nationals in the second round of the 2012 Draft out of Cal University. He came to the Yankees’ organization in June 2015 when the Bombers sent reliever David Carpenter to Washington. Renda received a total of 304 plate appearances for Trenton hitting .270 with a .328 OBP for the Thunder. This year, the right-handed hitter has advanced to Triple A Louisville and has received 79 plate appearances there after starting 2016 in Pensacola. He was hitting .326 with a .369 OBP at the time of his promotion.

Caleb CothamThe 28-year old right-hander pitched in 12 games for the Yankees in 2015, giving up seven runs on 14 hits in 9 2/3 innings. He was the Yanks’ fifth round selection in the 2009 Draft out of Vanderbilt and bounced around between starting and relieving during his time in the organization before settling into the bullpen before the 2015 season. Cotham has appeared 23 games for the Reds this year giving up 32 hits and 12 walks in 24 1/3 innings, posting a 7.40 ERA. However, it was a tale of two seasons in those 23 games. He had a 1.34 ERA in his first 11 games but a 12.79 ERA in his last 12. Cotham has been on the disabled list since the end of May with shoulder inflammation.

Chicago to New York

Gleyber Torres: The 19-year old shortstop is said to be the centerpiece of the deal sending Chapman to the Cubs. MLB.com rated him as Chicago’s #1 prospect, #24 overall. He was signed for $1.7 million dollars as an International free agent out of Venezuela in 2103. At age 18, the righ-handed hitting Torres batted .287 with a .346 OBP, driving in 64 runs and stealing 22 bases. This season for Myrtle Beach  of the Carolina League, he has 35 extra-base hits and 62 runs scored in 356 at-bats. He has also stolen 19 bases and possesses a .359 OBP, hitting .275. Torres will head to Tampa of the Florida State League.

Billy McKinney: He was the first round pick of the Oakland A’s in the 2013 Draft from Plano West High School in Plano, Texas and came to the Cubs in the blockbuster deadline deal along with Addison Russell for Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel. The 21-year old outfielder is ranked #5 in the Cubs’ organization and #75 of the Top 100 prospects by mlb.com. The left-handed hitter has been playing at Double A Tennessee after being promoted there last season. This year, he is hitting .252 with a .355 OBP with 37 runs scored and 31 RBI’s.  McKinney will now head to Trenton where he will most likely finish out the 2016 season.

Adam Warren: In essence, the Yankees traded Warren for himself while also acquiring Starlin Castro. It hasn’t been the best of seasons for the 28-year old right-hander as he sports a 5.91 ERA in 29 games. He was recently sent to Triple A Iowa when the Cubs activated Joe Nathan from the 60-day disabled list. Warren was sent down also to be stretched out in anticipation of the Cubs going to a six-man rotation. It is unclear what role he will have in New York but he figures to work out of the bullpen because of Chapman’s departure.

Rashad Crawford: He was Chicago’s 11th round selection in the 2012 Draft from Mundy Mills High School in Clayton, Georgia. Crawford, a 22-year old outfielder, collected 84 hits, good for a ,255 batting average and a .327 OBP at Myrtle Beach. The left-handed hitter also has some speed with 22 stolen bases in 28 attempts. He also has slugged eight triples, which was tied for first in the Carolina League. Upon being obtained by the organization, Crawford’s next stop is Tampa.

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New York Mets vs. St. Louis Cardinals: A Quick Preview

The New York Mets return home to Citi Field Monday night after a decent  road trip that saw them split two series to playoff contenders. The record on the nine game swing was 5-4, beating the Philadelphia Phillies and Miami Marlins and dropping a set to the Chicago Cubs. In the standing, the Mets are five games out in the National League East and half a game out of the second Wild Card. They now open a three game set against another contender, the St. Louis Cardinals, a team they have not faced yet this year. The Cards, at 52-46 are almost a mirror image of New York. They are a game off the second Wild Card and trail the Cubs in the National League Central by 7 1/2 games. St. Louis is also like the Mets in that they have dealt with a lot of injuries and ineffectiveness during 2016.

Courtesy: nydailynews.com

Courtesy: nydailynews.com

All-Star Matt Carpenter missed the Midsummer Classic and is still on the disabled list because of an oblique injury. Around the same time, Brandon Moss, who is tied for the club lead in home runs with 17, went on the DL because of an ankle sprain. Both players are looking to re-join the team by the end of the month. Jhonny Peralta, who missed the first two months of the season with a thumb injury, is again sidelined with a strained thumb ligament which is unrelated to his previous injury. Rookie shortstop Aledmys Diaz, who forced Peralta to third base because of his outstanding early season play, is heating up again after a tough stretch. He is hitting .319 over his last 30 games and leads the club in batting average and is second in on-base percentage. Second baseman Jedd Gyorko is in one of the hottest grooves of his career with five home runs over his last seven games and his hitting .370 in his last seven contests. Second year man Stephen Piscotty has filled in very well for the departed Jason Heyward. His 106 hits and 58 RBI’s are both team-highs.

It is in the rotation where St. Louis has faltered this year. Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha and free agent signee Mike Leake all have ERA’s over 4.00. The only hurler out of this bunch the Mets will see is Wainwright who gets the ball on Wednesday. Carlos Martinez, who has been the club’s best starter is given the opening night assignment against Noah Syndergaard. Martinez is 9-6 with a 2.83 ERA in 18 starts and sports excellent control with 37 walks and 96 strikeouts in 114 1/3 innings pitched. Jaime Garcia will pitch the middle game against the ageless Bartolo Colon. Garcia is 7-6 with a 3.98 ERA in 18 starts. The Cards’ rotation isn’t the only part of the staff that has had issues. Closer Trevor Rosenthal has been removed in favor of Seung-hwan Oh. The hard-throwing Rosenthal has allowed 39 hits and 24 walks in only 32 1/3 innings. Meanwhile Oh, a 34-year old Japanese import, has converted four of his first five save opportunities and has 67 strikeouts in only 49 1/3 innings. He is holding opposing hitters to a .162 average and possesses a WHIP (Walks plus Hits per Innings pitched) of 0.85.

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New York Yankees vs. Houston Astros: A Quick Preview

The last time the New York Yankees and the Houston Astros met, it was a cold three days in New York to open the season. The Yanks took two out of three games and after that both teams proceeded to have tough Aprils. However, while the Yankees can’t seem to put together any kind of sustained momentum with a 50-48 record, Houston has emerged as one of the hottest teams in baseball. They have managed to crawl out of their horrific 7-17 start to their present ten games over .500 at 54-44. They are only 2 1/2 games out first place in the American League West and a half game behind the second Wild Card spot. The Yanks and Astros now meet for three games at Minute Maid Park.

Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

In order for the Yankees to prevail in this series, they need to contain Most Valuable Player candidate Jose Altuve. Houston’s second baseman leads all of Major League Baseball with a .360 batting average, a .426 in-base percentage and 136 hits. His double play partner, shortstop Carlos Correa, is having an outstanding sophomore campaign. He leads the club in RBI’s with 64 and also has 15 home runs. Right fielder George Springer is tops in long balls with 21 and is third in runs driven in with 59. On the flip side, outfielder Colby Rasmus is hitless in his last 26 at-bats. Re-enforcements are on the way for the Astros. Top infield prospect Alex Bregman, the second overall pick in the 2015 Draft and MLB.com’s #18 prospect, has been called up to the big club and will be in the lineup Monday night. Also, the Astros landed the latest star Cuban import, third baseman Yulieski Gourriel with a 5-year, $77.5 million dollar contract. He has been assigned to Houston’s Rookie League squad but the organization expects him to be in the Majors before the end of the season.

Monday night’s starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel is a Yankee killer but he has endured a terrible 2016 season. The lefty is 6-9 with a 4.70 ERA and will oppose Michael Pineda. Doug Fister has been Houston’s most consistent starting pitcher and he will get the ball on Tuesday, opposing C.C. Sabathia. Fister is 10-6 on the year with a 3.42 ERA and is tops among qualified rotation members in just about every important category. Wendesday’s starter is Lance McCullers, Jr. who was dominant in his last outing. He shut the Los Angeles Angels over eight innings, striking out ten.  McCullers has 90 strikeouts in only 70 1/3 innings along with a 3.33 ERA. The ‘Stros have had a revolving door in the closer role. Ken Giles, whom the team obtained for a steep price from the Philadelphia Phillies, flopped in Spring Training and was replaced by Luke Gregerson, the team’s stopper last year. At the beginning of June, Gregerson struggled and was replaced by Will Harris whose dominant first half was rewarded with an All-Star selection. The 32-year old Harris has struck out 42 batters in 41 innings and has walked six while allowing just one home run.

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New York Mets vs. Miami Marlins: A Quick Preview

It s easy to say that this next series for the New York Mets is the biggest one of the 2016 season. After all, they are playing the Miami Marlins, a team they are neck-and-neck with in the division and for the second Wild Card. At 50-44, the Mets sit 1 1/2 games behind the Fish. who are 52-43, in both sets of standings. The Marlins return home after taking three of four games from the Philadelphia Phillies while the Mets are 3-3 on the first six games of their nine game road trip. Miami is rumored to be in the market for starting pitching help, having been linked as interested in Michael Pineda and Andrew Cashner.

AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

The Marlins have had three young players blossom all in the same year.  Left fielder Christian Yelich  leads all full-time players with a .395 on-base percentage and a .318 batting average while center fielder Marcell Ozuna is supplying a good deal of pop with 17 home runs and 52 RBI’s to go along with a .303 batting average. Catcher J.T. Realmuto is hitting .315 and owns 23 hits over his last 65 at-bats, a .365 average. Four Marlins are in the top 15 in the National League in hitting: Yelich, Ozuna, Realmuto and Martin Prado. Then there is the wonderful Ichiro Suzuki who is four base knocks away from the historic 3,000 number for his Major League career. At age 42, Ichiro is having a fabulous season with a .419 on-base percentage and hitting .343 in 178 at-bats. There is a chance that he could make history this weekend at the Fish Tank. Though Giancarlo Stanton has struggled lately with six hits in his last 27 at-bats, the Mets remember him well from his last visit to Citi Field when he clubbed a series of monstrous home runs. Miami will get some help by the end of the month when Justin Bour comes of the disabled list and Dee Gordon returns from his suspension for using a banned substance.

The Mets will be facing the two best Marlins’ starting pitchers this weekend. Left-hander Adam Conley gets the ball in the opener Friday night. He averages nearly a strikeout an inning with 103 punchouts in 104 2/3 frames. He is 3-2 with a 3.38 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP (Walks plus Hits per Innings Pitched) over his last seven starts. On Saturday, New York gets to face Marlins’ Ace Jose Fernandez, one of the best pitchers in the game. The 23-year old right-hander is second in all of baseball in strikeouts with 168 and his WHIP of 1.01 is tied for seventh. He owns a record of 11-4 with a 2.53 ERA in 18 starts. In his last outing on Monday vs. the Phillies, Fernandez allowed two earned runs over 6 1/3 innings while striking out 14. A.J. Ramos has turned himself into an outstanding closer with 31 saves in 32 opportunities and a 2.03 ERA. In 40 innings pitched, Ramos has allowed only one home run. The bridge to get to the ninth inning has been fortified with the recent acquisition of Fernando Rodney. Kyle Barraclough and David Phelps have proven to be able relievers, although the latter has surrendered four earned runs over his last seven innings pitched.

This marks the fourth time these two teams meet. The Mets hold the advantage at 5-4. They will meet for seven more games after this weekend, four in New York to close out August/begin September and three games in Miami, the last home series for the Marlins in 2016.

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New York Yankees: 4 Potential Trading Partners

Despite the New York Yankees’ current four-game winning streak, most observers feel that the club should begin exploring trade possibilities. In fact, there are reports the Yanks have spoken to a couple of teams about potential deals with nothing especially serious developing. The most desirable Yankee commodities of course are the three powerful arms in the bullpen: Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller. With an abundance of relievers and bullpen arms at a premium at this time of the year, general manager Brian Cashman has the luxury of letting teams bid against each other to get what he wants.  Here are four teams that have been mentioned as possible trading partners, all of whom feel that one of these players can catapult them to a World Series.

Courtesy espn.com

Courtesy espn.com

Chicago Cubs: This is the team that has been mentioned the most with power-hitting Kyle Schwarber being the price tag for either Chapman or Miller. Chicago President Theo Epstein has indicated that Schwarber is off-limits but that could be just posturing. Surely, he wouldn’t surrender him for Chapman, who would be no more than a rental but a package with either Miller or Betances as the centerpiece would be awfully tempting. However, a trade just went down that could cool any talk of a Yanks-Cubs swap. The Cubbies acquired left-handed reliever Mike Montgomery from the Seattle Mariners for two Minor Leaguers. Montgomery owns a solid 2.15 ERA in 61 2/3 innings.

Washington Nationals: The Nats are the other team that has been heavily linked as interested in New York’s bullpen. Scouts from the Bombers’ organization were checking in on the Syracuse Chiefs, Washington’s AAA farm club. Though closer Jonathan Papelbon has done a good job with 19 saves and a 2.73 ERA, any of the Yankee relievers would be an upgrade. However, remember the big stink Papelbon made last year about closing upon being traded to Washington? Miller and Betances wouldn’t have a problem setting up but what if the Yanks send Chapman, who insists on closing, to DC? Think of all the fireworks that would erupt in that clubhouse.

Texas Rangers: Texas needs all sorts of pitching help, not just in the bullpen. They have been linked to a bunch of starting pitchers, namely a couple of names in the Tampa Bay Rays’ rotation but they are also interested, like everyone else, in the Yankees. The prize Cashman would seek would be either infielder Jurickson Profar, finally living up his former status as #1 overall prospect after a series of injuries, or current top prospect Joey Gallo. The Rangers lack a true shutdown option and Chapman, Miller or Betances would slide quite nicely into that role.

Cleveland Indians: What do you get the team with arguably the best starting rotation in baseball? A premier relief pitcher to lock down games. With the injury to Yan Gomes, the Tribe’s attention figures to be split between a catcher and the bullpen. It is my opinion that Cleveland will put all their chips into All-Star catcher Jonathan Lucroy from the Milwaukee Brewers. That means there won’t be enough to pry away Miller or Betances but may be just enough to lure Chapman.

Remember, all of these scenarios are predicated on the fact that the Yankees have given up on 2016. Based on the last four days, the players haven’t.

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