Major league teams have until 4 p.m. on Tuesday to make a non-waiver trade to help their team. Meanwhile, the Cincinnati Reds and Los Angeles Dodgers continued winning streaks on Sunday. Here’s what’s happening in Major League Baseball:
Teams Scrambling To Make Deals Before Deadline
Because of the added Wild Card playoff spot in each league this year, many major league teams are still hoping to improve their chances for the post-season by trading for a player. After the Philadelphia Phillies signed pitcher Cole Hamels to a six-year, $144 million extension last week, and the Los Angeles Angels traded for Milwaukee Brewers’ ace Zack Greinke, the best pitchers are off the market. Teams must hope that Josh Johnson of the Miami Marlins, Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza of the Chicago Cubs and Jason Vargas of the Seattle Mariners can be acquired before the deadline. Other pitchers who could be dealt are James Shields of Tampa Bay, Joe Blanton of Philadelphia and Jonathan Broxton of Kansas City.
Offensively, top hitters like Hanley Ramirez (Dodgers), Ichiro Suzuki (Yankees) and Omar Infante (Tigers) have already changed teams. Third-baseman Chase Headley of the San Diego Padres is the best position player likely to be moved, but the Phillies could make outfielders Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence available. The Cubs would also like to part with outfielder Alfonso Soriano, but his guaranteed contract through 2014 is scaring teams away. After losing Alex Rodriguez to a broken hand last week, the Yankees could decide to fortify their infield with a trade, depending on who is available.
Teams can still make deals through August 31, but any player obtained after Tuesday’s deadline must clear waiver claims by competing ballclubs.
Latos Pitches Reds to 10th Straight Win
Cincinnati Reds’ pitcher Mat Latos struck out eight Colorado Rockies on Sunday, as the Reds (61-40) extended their NL Central lead to three games over the Pittsburgh Pirates while notching their 10th straight victory. Because of the hot streak, the Reds are now in position to win the division title and stay out of the first round Wild Card game. Since being obtained over the winter from the San Diego Padres, Latos has become one of the Reds’ best pitchers. He’s 9-3 with a 4.17 ERA in 2012.
Dodgers Sweep Giants to Pull Into a First-Place Tie
Clayton Kershaw pitched a five-hit shutout, as the Los Angeles Dodgers (56-47) completed a three-game sweep of the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park. After entering the weekend trailing the Giants by three games, Los Angeles is now virtually tied with San Francisco on top of the NL West. With Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier now joined by recently acquired Hanley Ramirez, the Dodgers lineup could have enough punch to make a post-season run.
Play of the Week: Travis Snider, Toronto Blue Jays
Despite playing in the brutally competitive American League East, the Toronto Blue Jays are still very much in playoff contention. Outfielder Travis Snider did his part to keep his team fighting for a Wild Card spot by robbing Tigers’ slugger Cecil Fielder of extra bases in Toronto’s 5-1 win over Detroit on Saturday.
Upcoming Series To Watch: Los Angeles Angels at Texas Rangers
The Los Angeles Angels (55-47) may have the best four-man pitching rotation in the American League with Zack Greinke, Jered Weaver, Dan Haren and C.J. Wilson. Weaver, Haren and Wilson will face the impressive Texas Rangers (59-41) lineup during the teams’ four-game series that starts Monday in Arlington. So far, Texas hasn’t made a deal to help its team stay on top of the AL West, but the Rangers could be active at the trade deadline on Tuesday.
Fantasy Player to Add: Jeremy Hellickson, Tampa Bay Rays
After tossing six shutout innings in a win against the Angels on Sunday, Jeremy Hellickson is now 6-6 with a 3.20 ERA. The Tampa Bay starter has emerged as a solid option for fantasy owners, walking just one batter in his last 18 and 1/3 innings pitched. It’s time to add him to your rotation.
Fantasy Player To Drop: James McDonald, Pittsburgh Pirates
If the Pittsburgh Pirates make their first post-season since 1992, it won’t be because of the way James McDonald pitched in July. A solid starter earlier in the season, McDonald walked 23 batters in 34 and 2/3 innings in July. He also added almost a run to his ERA over the past 30 days. It’s time to sit McDonald until he gets straightened out.
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