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American League

2018 ALCS: Astros Aiming To Repeat, Red Sox Looking For Revenge

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NBC.

This year’s American League Championship Series won’t be an unfamiliar scenario for baseball fans, because it’s a rematch of last year’s American League Division Series. Defending World Champion Houston will square off with Boston for the second consecutive postseason, this time with one more game and a lot more at stake. Houston wants a second consecutive pennant, Boston wants second blood.

The Astros defeated the Red Sox three games to one in one half of last season’s ALDS. The Red Sox were on the cusp on forcing a decisive Game 5, but questionable managerial decisions from ex-skipper John Farrell ultimately led to the team’s demise. The Astros then defeated the Yankees and then Los Angeles (both in thrilling seven game series) to bring the Commissioner’s Trophy to Texas for the first time ever.

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Postseason homer machine George Springer will look to send his team to another Fall Classic (The Houston Chronicle).

Both teams have different looks this time around in converse ways. Houston traded for superstar RHP Gerrit Cole last offseason while Boston signed slugging free agent OF/DH JD Martinez. What’s interesting is that both moves paid massive dividends. Aside Justin Verlander, Dallas Keuchel and Charlie Morton, Cole helped make the Astros’ starting rotation the unquestioned best in the game. Martinez, on the other hand, rejuvenated the Red Sox’ previously dormant offense and made it a force to be reckoned with again, coming within inches of the Triple Crown in the process.

What’s even more interesting is the new dynamic the rematch presents. As previously mentioned, the Sox parted ways with John Farrell last fall after his controversial pitching decisions killed the team’s rally and got them bounced from the ALDS for the second straight year. Who did they hire almost immediately after?  Houston Bench Coach Alex Cora, who resigned from AJ Hinch’s staff after Game 7.  Though there doesn’t appear to be any hard feelings on Houston’s side, it’s safe to bet that it will still serve as motivation.

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Red Sox rookie manager Alex Cora finds himself opposite the team he helped lead win it all last season (The Boston Globe).

Boston’s motivation is quite simple, don’t lose to the same team two years in a row. To do this, the team will have to find a way to topple that lethal trio of Verlander, Keuchel and Cole, but also to shut down Houston’s relentless offense, led in the ALDS by Alex Bregman and George Springer. Though he was injured for a majority of the year, Jose Altuve still goes without saying as well.

Don’t get it wrong, though. The Red Sox are no slouches, featuring two MVP front runners in Martinez and Mookie Betts alongside Andrew Benintendi and Xander Bogaerts. Chris Sale anchors a rotation that fared quite well against the Yankees in the LDS (with the obvious exception of David Price). Chris Sale, Nathan Eovaldi and Rick Porcello were all excellent vs. New York’s powerful core, Cora will be hoping they can replicate that success. He has announced that Price will start Game 2 despite yet another disaster in ALDS Game 2, the reasoning behind this decision is anyone’s guess.

Game 1 is Saturday at 8:09 PM ET on TBS from Fenway Park. Each team will lead off with its ace, Verlander vs. Sale. Don’t miss it!

American League

2019 Trade Deadline Highlights

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In a shocking, last-minute deal, Zack Greinke has a new home (CBS Sports).

This year’s Trade Deadline in the MLB wasn’t as boisterous as previous seasons and might rank as one of the less-exciting ones in history. There was still a good number of high-profile moves, however, and a few big names went on to new homes. Here’s a look at the more notable acquisitions of July 31, 2019 and how they will impact the teams that got the big returns.

Blue Jays trade RHP Marcus Stroman to Mets in exchange for RHP Anthony Kay, RHP Simeon Woods-Richardson

The move that unofficially kicked off trading season was a bit of a head scratcher. It had long been rumored that Toronto was shopping ace Marcus Stroman, but the team he ended up with isn’t exactly a contender. The Mets are currently four games under .500 and may not be vying for the postseason in 2019. The move is likely another part of the Mets rebuilding process, and since Noah Syndergaard stayed put, New York may have a formidable rotation next season.

Indians acquire LHP Scott Moss, OF Yasiel Puig from Reds and OF Franmil Reyes, LHP Logan Allen and IF Victor Nova from Padres, Padres acquire OF Taylor Trammell from Reds, Indians acquire Reds acquire RHP Trevor Bauer from Indians

The literal biggest trade of the day was a this three-team blockbuster. Trevor Bauer firing the ball over the center field wall on Sunday after he was pulled in the fifth inning ended up being the last pitch he threw in an Indians uniform. A day later the Tribe rid itself of his petulance and pulled off a massive trade with intrastate rival Cincinnati as well as San Diego that saw Bauer go to the Reds and Reds top prospect Taylor Tramell go to the Friars. Cleveland received a host of players from both teams, most namely Yasiel Puig, who is ironically also known as a prima donna.

Though Bauer is undeniably talented when he keeps his act together and bolsters the Reds attempts to trend upward, San Diego may have won the trade with Tramell, MLB’s no. 30 overall prospect.

Rays acquire 1B Jesus Aguilar from Brewers in exchange for RHP Jacob Faria

Milwaukee was certainly brewing before the Deadline and made a commendable effort to improve its pitching. GM David Stearns’ most notable move was a straight swap with the Rays that brought back righty Jacob Faria in exchange for power hitting 1B Jesus Aguilar. Aguilar is having a down year but has proven many times that he can be deadly. He gives the Rays the big bat they’ve been seeking in their hunt for a Wild Card berth.

It’s a good move for both sides because it clears Milwaukee’s infield logjam and gives the team another quality starter. Faria never quite broke out in Tampa Bay but a change of scenery always has potential to pay dividends. After having already gotten Jordan Lyles from Pittsburgh on Monday, the Brewers made another move and got Drew Pomeranz from San Fransisco later on Wednesday. Though none of the returns are big name guys, Milwaukee is serious about making another run after coming so close last year.

Cubs acquire OF Nicholas Castellanos from Tigers in exchange for RHP Alex Lange and RHP Paul Richan.

The Cubs made their chances of taking the NL Central back even better with this move. Nicholas Castellanos has been one of the MLB’s more underrated players in recent years, largely because he was on the Tigers after the team’s glory days of the early 2010s ended. Adding him to a lineup that already includes Kris Bryant, Willson Contreras and Javier Baez gives the Cubbies even more firepower, especially given Castellanos success vs. lefty pitchers. It’s also a great move for him personally as he gets to join a contending team at last. The Cubs are vying to appear in the playoffs for a fifth consecutive season, and their chances look pretty good.

Astros acquire RHP Zack Greinke from Diamondbacks in exchange for RHP Corbin Martin, RHP JB Bukauskas, IF Josh Rojas and IF Seth Beer

If Houston was scary good before this trade, they’re terrifyingly good now. The Astros just added Zack Greinke to a rotation that already includes Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole in a last-minute deal that wasn’t announced until after the deadline officially passed. Arizona received a package of four minor leaguers in return as the team is now officially in the rebuilding process.

Like Verlander, Greinke is in the second half of his thirties but has not declined at all and owned a 10-4 record with a 2.90 on a sub-par Diamondbacks team at the time of his departure. The six-time All-Star’s presence gives Houston the best rotation in baseball by far and should get the knees of any upcoming opponent knocking. The MLB said it best on Instagram today, “Facing Houston? You have a problem.”

Notable non-moves:

  • After being heavily rumored as top targets, Mets RHP Noah Syndergaard and Giants LHP Madison Bumgarner are still members of their longtime teams.
  • The Boston Red Sox, whose bullpen has blown 18 saves, made no moves to improve its relief core, to the amazement of the team’s fanbase.
  • The New York Yankees were thought to be Syndergaard’s top suitor, but the team did not acquire any starting pitching to aid Aaron Boone’s struggling rotation.

What was the biggest move of the deadline this year? Be sure to let us know on Twitter @HomeRunDaily.

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American League

Athletics Acquire Tanner Roark

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Tanner Roark

The Oakland Athletics have acquired right hander Tanner Roark from the Cincinnati Reds, according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal.

As part of the deal, outfielder Jamerson Hannah will be heading to Cincinnati, according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser, the Reds will pick up $2.1 million of Roark’s remaining salary.

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American League

Astros Acquire Martin Maldonado

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Martin Maldonado

The Houston Astros have acquired veteran catcher Martin Maldonado from the Chicago Cubs, according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal.

As part of the deal, outfielder/second baseman Tony Kemp will be heading to the Cubs, according to the Houston Chronicle’s Chandler Rome.

Maldonado has posted a .217/.285/.349 slash line this season.

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