I had a gargantuan piece lined up, and then I realized how dumb it was. No one has time for my epic, meandering thoughts. I have too many thoughts in my brain that should probably be utilized in podcast form. Anyway, what follows is my (more) condensed look at each National League division, with whatever rumors AND fantasy baseball takeaways I can muster.
I’d love to hear about YOUR team in the comments. Let me know what I missed, folks. The July 30 trade deadline is rapidly approaching, so it’s a fun time to be a baseball fan (theoretically). Hopefully the trade deadline “stove” heats up a little bit today and tomorrow...
The Mets (51-44) owe Tylor Megill their division-leading life. Between injuries to Jacob deGrom, Carlos Carrasco, Noah Syndergaard (and other depth options), it looks like Megill’s spot in the rotation is set in stone. There’s also Taijuan Walker’s ineptitude over the last month, and whatever pinch he felt in his non-throwing shoulder in last night’s game. Bottom line is, if you’ve got Megill as a back-end fantasy starter, I think you can keep on rolling him out there. He’s just 23% rostered at Yahoo, and the man is making history:
Lowest ERA in 1st 6 career starts, Mets history:— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) July 24, 2021
Terry Leach: 1.73
Nolan Ryan: 1.98
Dillon Gee: 2.09
Tylor Megill: 2.10
If I’m the Mets, I’m doing everything in my power to acquire Kris Bryant and then make an epic postseason run. There’s a lot of lineup flexibility with Jeff McNeil bouncing around between 2B/3B/OF, and Kevin Pillar as a fourth outfielder has been solid. There’s no reason the Mets shouldn’t be all-in on 2021.
As for the rest of the NL East, it’s fanboy time from me, the resident Braves fan.
Atlanta (48-49) is tied with Philadelphia for second place in the division, then there’s a gap to the Nationals (45-52). With rumors that Max Scherzer is available for trade, I’m here to tell you that Atlanta will be BUYERS. Joc Pederson has fit like a glove so far, and Freddie Freeman is in the midst of arguably the best stretch of his entire career. The Braves have won back-to-back-to-back NL East pennants...do you think this version of the Phillies is going to scare them off of putting all the pressure possible on the Mets? I don’t think so. The Braves should be in on EVERYONE. A starter, a reunion with Craig Kimbrel, an impact offensive player...everyone. Do it, Atlanta. I’m not saying mortgage the future. But add another piece or two and see how far the offense can carry this team. Trevor Story could lock down centerfield...just sayin’. Drew Waters is also raking in Triple-A, and that’s a savvy way to boost the offense (and the outfield defense) come September. Focus on arms if you’re asking me, Atlanta.
As for the Nationals, they are on the record as considering both buy and sell approaches this trade deadline, but the smoke is swirling around a Max Scherzer trade. That said, slugger Kyle Schwarber has progressed to taking swings after a hamstring injury, so if the price isn’t right on Scherzer I could see the Nationals playing this thing out—especially given the recent offensive outburst by Juan Soto.
The Milwaukee Brewers (58-41) have a 6.5 game lead on the Reds, and a trio of dominant starters in Brandon Woodruff, Corbin Burnes, and Freddy Peralta. I still feel like I don’t hear enough about this Milwaukee team. Is it just me? Of note is the managing of Freddy Peralta’s innings. I think Peralta is a clear sell in typical redraft leagues if you can pawn him off for an ace without the same looming innings restrictions. Could the Brewers add a bullpen arm to aid in the managing of starters’ innings? Richard Rodriguez of the Pirates is one such rumor.
Another issue for the Brewers is what to do at first base. Will Milwaukee really play it out with some trio of Jace Peterson, Keston Hiura, and Rowdy Tellez? Wouldn’t Anthony Rizzo be much, much nicer?
The Reds (51-47) are 6.5 games back, and a tad ahead of the Cardinals (49-50). Both teams better the Chicago Cubs (48-51), who appear to be poised to sell anything for the right price at this year’s deadline. The Cubs could be in the news plenty over the coming week, with names like Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Anthony Rizzo, Willson Contreras, Craig Kimbrel, Kyle Hendricks, Zach Davies, and others potentially available. The Cubs and Reds could be trade partners, given the Reds’ need for an impact arm (or two) in the bullpen, as well as an upgrade at shortstop.
I could see Kimbrel reuniting with Atlanta or helping the bullpen-starved Phillies. Rizzo is a great fit for the Boston Red Sox or the aforementioned Brewers. Contreras would be a good fit in Atlanta (if they go for it). The catcher could also be a fit in Cleveland, Houston, and even for the White Sox.
The Pirates (38-60) have played .500 ball over their last 10 games, but are obviously not going to be buyers this year. Adam Frazier could be on the move, with the White Sox being one rumor that makes sense after Chicago lost Nick Madrigal to injury. Gregory Polanco could be an interesting name to sell as well—he’s been on a heater since the ASB and is quietly up to 11 homers and 11 steals for the season. If his .253 BABIP takes a positive turn, that ghastly .209 BA could do the same. He hasn’t had a lot of perceived value in quite some time, so now would be a good time to move him, IMO.
The Giants (61-37) have lost a couple against the lowly Pirates, so yikes. But this is still a well-built team, who honestly give me Rays vibes. Quality pitching and a lot of interchangeable parts on offense, without superstar power? Yep. I wonder if the Giants make a splash to buoy them over the second half. Craig Kimbrel could help the back end of that bullpen. The Giants could also bolster their outfield with an impact bat. San Francisco is also reportedly in the mix for the lefty Danny Duffy, who has been good when healthy in 2021.
The Dodgers (60-40) are probably feeling better today, as Kenley Jansen garnered a save last night in a 1-0 victory (after blowing three consecutive opportunities). Still, this is a team with notable big-name injuries (Clayton Kershaw, Corey Seager, Gavin Lux, Dustin May, for starters). There’s also the ongoing struggles by Cody Bellinger. It would surprise me if the Dodgers find a way to improve their team in the interim. A bullpen move seems most prudent. Craig Kimbrel would fit anywhere, but Ian Kennedy is a name that has been linked to the Dodgers, too.
The Padres (58-43) are breathing down L.A.’s collective neck, only 4.5 games out of first place. The Friars should get a bit of a boost offensively with the return of Austin Nola at backstop, too. GM A.J. Preller is the aggressive sort, and the Friars are reportedly in the market for starting pitching help. Joey Gallo is a rumored target for San Diego, as are guys like Danny Duffy, Jon Gray, Kyle Gibson, and Jordan Lyles. Kenta Maeda has swirled around, too, and that’s the name with the highest “upside” in my opinion. But would the Twins cut a deal? Nelson Cruz has already been jettisoned by Minnesota, so I’d say it’s possible.
The Rockies (43-55) and Diamondbacks (31-69) have to play the long game here and try to find ways to get better. Trevor Story is the name to monitor, as at least one MLB team has considered the star shortstop as a centerfielder. That could come to fruition for the Yankees (replacing Brett Gardner) or for the Braves (replacing Guillermo Heredia). Story could be a traditional fit for the Reds, too, replacing Kyle Farmer. That makes the most sense to me, and hopefully the Reds go for broke.
The Diamondbacks have already unloaded veterans in Tim Locastro (to the Yankees) and Stephen Vogt (to Atlanta). Merrill Kelly is a name that keeps swirling in trade rumors, and who doesn’t need pitching at this point in the year? Are the Mariners a good trade partner? Seattle won’t do anything to damage their long-term plans, and Kelly is a low-cost, solid veteran who makes plenty of sense. Caleb Smith, Eduardo Escobar, Joakim Soria, and Asdrubal Cabrera are other Arizona names that could be on the move. Just watch Smith’s home park if he does get traded—as an extreme fly ball pitcher, he’ll be homer-prone no matter where he goes. A bad park could be a death knell for his occasional streaming value.
In summation, let’s watch out for Max Scherzer and Trevor Story potentially being on the move. Also, the Chicago Cubs have a lot of star power potentially up for grabs. And multiple relievers could be on the move. I expect my Heath Hembree shares to be jeopardized soon enough, as well as my Kendall Graveman shares—I could see both guys losing save opportunities when the dust settles. But we’ll just have to wait and see.
What say you all? What am I missing in the National League?