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MLB News and Notes

While in the eyes of young children, professional athletes are often seen as heroes and immortal, and sometimes we forget that these players that go out and play a game at an unbelievably high level are humans just like the rest of us. Sadly, on Monday, we were reminded of just how human they are when Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs passed away at just 27 years old. A cause of death has not been revealed at the time of this writing, but no foul play was suspected.

It was amazing the outpouring of support and condolences from players, fans, and the organization alike. It was quickly evident that Skaggs was certainly seen as one of the good guys. While he was a very talented baseball player, it seems as if he was an even better person to be around.

La Stella Derailed By Freak Accident

Reeling from the tragedy the organization suffered Monday, the Angels also got some tough news on the field Tuesday. Angels infielder Tommy La Stella, who has had just an absolutely dominant first half, suffered a fractured tibia in his right leg. La Stella, who was named an All-Star this year, suffered the injury when he fouled a ball off his shin. The injury is believed to keep him out for upwards of eight to 10 weeks. This season, La Stella is hitting .300/.353/.495 with 16 home runs, 44 runs batted in and 49 runs scored. With the All-Star now sidelined, the Angels have called up Matt Thaiss to take his place on the active roster.

Two Different Carlos’s Hit Free Agency

Former All-Stars Carlos Gomez and Carlos Gonzalez have certainly seen their careers begin to slide, and they once again find themselves without a job. Both Gomez (New York Mets) and Gonzalez (Chicago Cubs) chose to go the route of a free agent as opposed to accepting outright assignments from their respective teams. Both of them have certainly seen their struggles this year, though. For Gomez, he has hit just .198/.278/.337 with three home runs, 10 runs batted in, and 10 runs scored this season. For Gonzalez, he hit .200/.289/.283 with three home runs, 10 runs batted in, and 21 runs scored between the Indians and Cubs. Still, both of these guys have been a shell of their former selves, and while it wouldn’t shock me to see a team take a flyer on either one of them, one thing seems for certain, their best days are behind them.

Harper Hits A Couple Milestones

Bryce Harper did something on Wednesday that no one has done before. He actually hit two major milestones with just one swing of the bat. Not only did he hit the 200th home run of his career, but it was also his 1,000th hit. Unfortunately, this was just one bright spot on an otherwise gloomy night as the Phillies lost to the Atlanta Braves 9-2, dropping to 5.5 games back of Atlanta in the NL East. For Harper, this was also a temporary bright spot on an otherwise frustrating season. After signing a big contract in the offseason, Harper has gotten off to a rough start.

On the season, he is hitting just .248/.365/.473 with 16 home runs, 60 runs batted in and 51 runs scored. While that stat line does not look atrocious on the surface, the Phillies were still hoping for more when they signed Harper to his mammoth contract. For Harper and the Phillies, they certainly hope that the All-Star break can serve as kind of a reset button not only for Harper but for their play in the division, where they hope to catch the Braves and make the postseason.

Cease Gets First Big League Start

The Chicago White Sox are in the midst of a rebuild, but their hope is that they are beginning to make progress towards coming out of the rebuild and into contention. This season has shown some flashes of that with breakout campaigns from players like Lucas Giolito and Yoan Moncada and has also seen the debuts of some of their highly touted prospects. Two of those prospects came in the Jose Quintana deal with the Chicago Cubs.

The first is Eloy Jimenez, who has been up most of the season and has hit .243/.300/.477 with 15 home runs, 36 runs batted in, and 33 runs scored. The other one just made his debut this last Wednesday in elite prospect Dylan Cease. Currently ranked the 18th overall prospect by, Cease pitched against the Detroit Tigers and went five innings, allowing four hits, four walks, and three earned runs while striking out six en route to his first career win. If Cease can turn into the pitcher most believe he is capable of, the White Sox could have a formidable duo in Cease and Giolito at the top of their rotation. Throw in an offense built around Moncada, Jimenez, Abreu, and Tim Anderson, and you could have the making of a competitive team sooner than later.

Possible Pitching Targets At Deadline

With only about four weeks until the trade deadline, the rumor mill is certainly heating up as teams decide whether they are buyers or sellers. Things are even more intensified this year, as there is only one trade deadline with the August waiver deadline being eliminated. With that in mind, you may see a bit more of a flurry of deals this month. While there are impact players at all positions, starting pitching can sometimes come to the forefront of the trade market. With that in mind, here are some potential names that could be on the move:

Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco

Of all the starting pitchers, Bumgarner certainly has the most name recognition of any of them. With that in mind, though, he has struggled over the last couple years to be the dominant force he once was. Still, while he might not be a true ace anymore, he can certainly be a solid 2 or 3 starter and also has the postseason pedigree. This year he is 5-7 with a 4.02 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and has 113 strikeouts in 109 2/3 innings.

Matt Boyd, Detroit

Boyd is one of the most intriguing names because he certainly isn’t a rental. In fact, he would not become a free agent until 2023. He definitely has swing-and-miss stuff (129 strikeouts in 101 2/3 innings pitched), but he has also been susceptible to the long ball (he has given up 17 this year). Still, at 28, he is 5-6 with a 3.72 ERA and 1.09 WHIP and will be enticing to a lot of teams, but may also be expensive.

Marcus Stroman, Toronto

It seems Stroman has been on the list of potential trade candidates for years. Like Boyd, he would not be a true rental, but he also doesn’t have near the amount of contract left as Boyd (would be controlled through the 2020 season). Even though his record (5-9) doesn’t reflect it, he has had a nice season with a 3.18 ERA and 1.26 WHIP. He has 81 strikeouts in 104 2/3 innings and, like Boyd, would likely see his numbers improve on a better team.

Zack Wheeler, New York Mets

Like Bumgarner, Wheeler would be a true rental as he would be a free agent at the end of the year. Still, there is a lot to like about this 29-year-old. He has 123 strikeouts in 114 innings, and, while his 4.42 ERA isn’t the prettiest, he has still managed a 6-5 record. Again, not a true ace, but he can certainly help a team’s depth as a solid number 3 pitcher.

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