We're about to embark on the second half of the Major League Baseball regular season after one more day of rest. It was a power-packed first half of action followed by an exciting Home Run Derby and mid-summer classic from Miami.
You can expect to see a lot of faces in new places in a few weeks, as the non-waiver trade deadline is fast approaching. Over the next couple of weeks the focus shifts from the glitz and glamour of the All-Star Game to the push for the playoffs. There are plenty of teams who are certain to be sellers at the deadline, while a few others are trying to figure out what side they will come down on by July 31.
The Detroit Tigers might be open to dealing ace Justin Verlander, although a potential deal would require his waving a no-trade clause if the team moves forward on a move. It's uncertain what the Tigers would be able to fetch if a deal is made, but Verlander has nearly $70 million remaining on a deal which runs through 2019, so Detroit might need to get creative to make a deal happen. A move to a contender might give a bump to Verlander's fantasy value. He'll put his 5-6 record, 4.73 ERA and 1.52 WHIP on the line to kick off the second half Friday against the Blue Jays.
One big name not expected to be on the move is All-Star Nelson Cruz of the Seattle Mariners. While the M's slipped four games under .500 with a cold snap before the break, the M's are reportedly planning to stick it out and wade through the rough waters. Country Joe West's selfie partner looks to be staying put in the Pacific Northwest for now, pairing with All-Star Game MVP Robinson Cano for a nice one-two punch in the middle of the lineup.
The Boston Red Sox are believed to have interest in All-Star Pat Neshek, looking to bolster their bullpen for the stretch run. The veteran middle reliever is in the final months of a three-year contract, so the Phillies would like to get something in return. He would be an ideal fit to any team with playoff aspirations, so expect the trade winds to swirl around Neshek at hurricane force as the 31st gets closer.
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The Atlanta Braves won't be promoting Ronald Acuna to the major leagues just yet, but he is on his way up the organizational depth chart. He'll go from Double-A Mississippi to Triple-A Gwinnett, with perhaps an eye on Atlanta when rosters expand in September.
The teen phenom outfielder kicked off the season at Class A Florida, but was promoted to Mississippi after just 28 games. He posted a .318/.368/.507 slash line while posting nine home runs, 30 RBI and 18 stolen bases over 217 at-bats at Mississippi. Acuna will be just down Interstate 20, so Braves fans will be able to get a glimpse of the future even if Acuna isn't promoted in the final month of the season. Last week he was tabbed as the top prospect in the team's minor-league system, and Baseball America named him the No. 10 prospect overall in baseball. Acuna has the ability to play all three outfield positions, and the Braves are rather porous at the outfield position at the big-league level.
The San Francisco Giants are finally pulling the plug on Matt Cain, as he'll shift to a long relief role with Madison Bumgarner (shoulder) set to come off the 10-day disabled list to start Saturday in San Diego. The Giants had considered a six-man rotation, but that situation rarely ever works. Cain has posted an awful 5.56 ERA and 1.69 WHIP across 17 starts and one relief appearance.
This news is music to the ears of fantasy owners with stock in Ty Blach, who likely saved his rotation spot with back-to-back wins and quality starts leading up to the break. The key for his turnaround is his ability to keep the ball in the park, giving up no homers with just 13 hits and four walks over the past 12 1/3 innings. His numbers haven't been dominating, but he has been good enough for the back-end of fantasy rotations in NL-only formats.
National League Quick Hits: Dee Gordon, a popular target for teams looking to bolster their roster for a playoff run, has hit safely in eight in a row.
American League Quick Hits: Eric Hosmer of the Royals carries a 15-game hitting streak into the second half, longest active in the majors. He is hitting .400 (24-for-60) with 10 runs scored, four home runs and 12 RBI during the impressive span. … Evan Gattis of the Astros is the only other player in the majors with an active hitting streak in double digits. He is in the midst of an 11-game run, hitting .348 with four home runs and 15 RBI over the stretch.