MLB rumors: Braves focused on 'pursuing' Madison Bumgarner trade

MLB rumors: Braves focused on 'pursuing' Madison Bumgarner trade

It's still unclear what the Giants plan to do as the MLB trade deadline approaches.

A month ago, they were clear-cut sellers, with big pieces such as Madison Bumgarner and All-Star closer Will Smith expected to be shipped off for a hefty return. But after a 15-3 stretch put them back in the thick of the NL wild-card discussion, the Giants no longer might be sellers. No, president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi hasn't stopped fielding calls, but it feels like the Giants have taken a step back when it comes to trade discussions.

With the July 31 deadline a little over a week away, how the Giants fare in their next two series against the Chicago Cubs and San Diego Padres can go a long way to determining whether they buy or sell.

While teams might not be certain of the Giants' deadline plans, one team remains in hot pursuit of a potential trade for Bumgarner.

The Atlanta Braves, who currently sit atop the NL East at 60-41, would like to acquire a top of the rotation arm as October approaches, and they remain focused on Bumgarner, The Athletic's Jim Bowden reported Monday. 

The Braves have a deep farm system and could overwhelm the Giants in a Bumgarner trade, but Atlanta -- like the rest of baseball -- isn't sure that San Francisco will be a seller at the deadline.

[RELATED: MLB trade deadline: Predicting landing spot for top players]

Bumgarner also has an eight-team no-trade list, and the Braves are one to which he has the power to void a trade. The ace left-hander could use the no-trade list as a leverage play to steer where he wants to be traded to, or he could shut talks down and elect to finish out the season with the Giants, hoping to give manager Bruce Bochy one last October run. 

There are nine days until the trade deadline, and the Hot Stove is just starting to get cooking. Stay tuned.

Johnny Cueto dazzles again for Giants, stymies Marlins despite limits

Johnny Cueto dazzles again for Giants, stymies Marlins despite limits

SAN FRANCISCO -- If you're at all surprised by Johnny Cueto's first two starts back from Tommy John surgery, you probably shouldn't be. 

After all, this is a pitcher who had a 0.84 ERA through the end of April last season when he felt constant pain in his elbow and knew that surgery could be in his near future. Cueto found a way to fool hitters back then, and the Giants were always optimistic that he would find his form once he returned. Even by that standard, though, the first two starts have been impressive. 

Cueto threw five more shutout innings Sunday, giving him 10 scoreless frames in his return. He has allowed just four hits, walked three and struck out six. He would have picked up a second win Sunday, but the bullpen temporarily coughed up the lead. The Giants would go on to beat the Marlins 2-1 when Mike Yastrzemski dashed home on a wild pitch in the eighth. 

"I don't know if anybody expected him to get off to a start like this, but you look at how he's throwing the ball and it's Johnny before his surgery," manager Bruce Bochy said. "It's four pitches with command. He commands the ball, cuts it, mixes up his delivery -- and that works."

The Giants needed every scoreless inning, because right now they're out there with a lineup that's providing absolutely no punch. Cueto did his best to make an early Mauricio Dubon homer hold up, and he showed a sense of the moment as his day was coming to a close. 

Cueto had a long fourth inning and was 10 pitches from his predetermined count when he went out for the fifth. The bullpen was humming, but Cueto got through the inning on just six pitches. Then he popped into the dugout and asked Bochy for the sixth. 

"It was like Johnny knew it," Bochy said. "He got some quick outs."

[RELATED: MadBum not thinking about possible final days with Giants]

Bochy joked that he would let Cueto go 120 pitches if possible, but the restraints are still on and will be for the rest of this season. Cueto could get to 80-85 pitches in his next start and said he hopes to be cleared for 100 in his season finale. With the way he's throwing right now, that might be enough to take a shot at a shutout. 

Giants vs. Marlins lineups: Mike Yastrzemski's first start in center field


Giants vs. Marlins lineups: Mike Yastrzemski's first start in center field

Before embarking on their final road trip of the 2019 season, the Giants will host the Miami Marlins in a matinee to close out a three-game series at Oracle Park.

Getting the start for San Francisco is Johnny Cueto, who wowed the crowd at China Basin in his season debut last week, allowing only one hit in five innings with four strikeouts in a Giants win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Cueto is 4-2 in 10 career starts against Miami but owns a 5.09 ERA in those outings.

Opposite the Giants ace will be 24-year-old Elieser Hernandez. The right-hander has a 3-5 record in 14 starts this season, with a 5.24 ERA. 

Coverage begins at noon PT with Giants Pregame Live on NBC Sports Bay Area and streaming live in the MyTeams app.

[RELATED: MadBum not thinking about possible final days with Giants]

Here are the lineups for Marlins-Giants:

Miami Marlins (52-96)
SS Miguel Rojas
2B Isan Diaz
3B Starlin Castro
1B Neil Walker
C Jorge Alfaro
RF Lewis Brinson
CF Magneuris Sierra
LF Jon Berti
RHP Elieser Hernandez (3-5, 5.24 ERA)
San Francisco Giants (71-78)
CF Mike Yastrzemski
1B Brandon Belt
3B Evan Longoria
LF Stephen Vogt
SS Brandon Crawford
RF Mike Gerber
LF Joey Rickard
2B Mauricio Dubon
RHP Johnny Cueto (1-0, 0.00 ERA)