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The Trailing Runner: July 24 – July 30

The stove is hot and so is Aaron Judge.

Every Sunday, The Trailing Runner recaps the past week’s biggest headlines and most exciting performances. On Mondays, keep an eye out for The Leadoff, which breaks down the week ahead.

The second half of the season is underway, and the stories didn’t take long to emerge. With a looming trade deadline, playoff races, and hot streaks galore, it’s shaping up to be an exciting rest of the season.

 

Mariners Ignite the Hot Stove

 

The New York Mets had been single-handedly keeping the trade deadline hype alive when they traded for Daniel Vogelbach from the Pirates and Tyler Naquin from the Reds. That was until Friday when the Seattle Mariners decided they wanted to get in on the fun:

Blockbuster. Luis Castillo slots in as the newest ace in the AL West, as Jerry Dipoto and the Seattle faithful hope that Castillo can turn this rotation into a playoff threat. Castillo has been having an excellent season, with a 2.86 ERA, 90 Ks, and a 9.5 SO/9 in 85 innings so far.

He’ll be moving from a well-known hitter’s park in Great American Ballpark to a safer, more pitcher-friendly T-Mobile park, as well. It’s a move that will hopefully lead to Seattle’s first playoff berth in over 20 years, and create a three-headed monster of Robbie Ray, Castillo, and Logan Gilbert.

The Reds should be happy with their return, too:

Noelvi Marte slots in as the Reds’ top prospect and sits at as the 17th best prospect overall. The 20-year-old shortstop is slashing .275/.363/.462 with 15 HR, 55 RBI, and 13 SB through 85 games this year at A+, and was regarded as having some of the best potential in the Mariners’ system, even if his defense does eventually move him to third base.

Complimenting Marte is shortstop Edwin Arroyo who becomes the Reds’ 6th best prospect. Through 87 games, he is slashing .316/.385/.514 with 13 HR, 67 RBI, and 21 SB. Levi Stoudt and Andrew Moore are two arms who have been having fairly strong seasons and could eventually slot well into a Cincinnati rotation.

The trade looks to be a home run for both teams. Seattle gets an electric arm to help push them into playoff contention, while the Reds add some valuable pieces for their rebuild. Though Seattle had to give up a big package, it’s the kind of move that the Mariners need to make to break one of the longest playoff droughts in sports. Keep an eye out for the Mariners in the second half, as they’re looking to make some noise.

 

Superstars on the Move?

 

Speaking of the trade deadline, some of the biggest drama is related to two of the brightest stars in the game: Juan Soto and Shohei Ohtani. The faces of the Nationals and Angels, respectively, are looking like they’ll be out of playoff contention by the time October rolls around, and are both nearing the ends of their contracts. All of this combined, many have speculated that front offices may want to collect a potential haul before losing them for nothing. And, as you may expect, the rumor mill is going wild:

Ohtani, the 2021 AL MVP, is having another spectacular season, with 22 HR and 62 RBI to go along with a 2.81 ERA in 99.1 IP. The superstar would have an immediate impact on any team with his ability to change the game on both sides of the ball, but it would (understandably) take a haul to get him. Not only is Ohtani an immense talent, but his popularity and appeal off the field would be a welcome sight for any team.

While the Angels may be listening on Ohtani, it seems there is a small chance he moves. Soto, on the other hand, looks like he may have a legitimate market forming for him:

The 23-year-old outfielder is having a “down” season compared to what is expected of him, slashing .246/.404/.479 with 20 HR, 45 RBI, and 60 R. One has to imagine the Nationals’ lineup isn’t doing him many favors, as most of his protection comes from only one other player, Josh Bell. But with 21 career WAR at just 23 years old, Soto is an instant improvement to any potential team he could get dealt to. Because of this, the Nationals are asking for an absolute haul:

Reports seem to indicate that the Padres are the closest, but the Cardinals have still been connected with their strong combination of talented prospects and MLB-ready talent. But as most baseball fans know, the Dodgers are always lurking with their excellent front office and strong prospect base.

Teams have until Tuesday, August 2nd at 6 p.m. EST to make trades happen, and supposedly it’s shaping up to be a good one:

 

 

Judge Continues Meteoric Season

 

It’s easy for our timelines to be filled with all of the trade deadline news and rumors, but let’s not forget about Aaron Judge having his most electric performance since 2017. The star outfielder has a .300 average and a 1.059 OPS. It’s about to be August. He’s complimenting that with 86 R, 42 HR, and 91 RBI. That stat line honestly doesn’t seem real, but he’s just been that good. And he isn’t slowing down:

That was also Judge’s 200th career home run. He’s just a joy to watch and we should all keep our fingers crossed for great health and more of this. Judge has a real chance at 60 home runs and an MVP award in his future.

 

Players of the Week

 

Some top offensive performances of the week:

  • Speaking of Judge, how about 6 HR and 12 RBI in the last 7 days? Electric.
  • Matt Chapman is dedicated to making sure the Blue Jays make the playoffs this year, with 3 HR, 6 RBI, and a .444 average in the past week.
  • Adolis García is trying to show that 2021 wasn’t a fluke, and this past week he added 6 R, 2 HR, 8 RBI, and 2 SB along with a .357 average.
  • Other shoutouts go to Yordan Alvarez, Jeimer Candelario, and Jose Miranda who have been on hot streaks.

And their counterparts on the mound:

  • Pablo López: 7 IP, 1 ER, 2H, 0 BB, 11 K
  • Brady Singer: 7 IP, 0 ER, 1H, 1 BB, 10 K
  • Special shoutout to reliever Edwin Díaz, who is just on a tear. Through July he’s pitched 11.1 innings with 2 H, 1 BB, and 25 K. He’s on another level. This past week he had 3.1 IP with 8 Ks and 3 saves.

 

Around the League

 

  • The Yankees sit atop the AL East and pace the American League at 69-33. The Twins are the best team in the Central at 53-47. The Astros lead the West at 66-36.
  • The Mets pace the NL East at 63-37. The Brewers are atop the Central at 57-44. In the West, the Dodgers lead at 67-33, the best record in the NL.
  • Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees leads all hitters with 6.4 fWAR.
  • The Marlins’ Sandy Alcantara remains on top of all pitchers with a 4.0 fWAR.

 

Featured image by Doug Carlin (@Bdougals on Twitter)

Evan Lobdell

Editor and occasional writer for PitcherList. Believed in Brent Honeywell Jr. for far too long and still holding out hope.

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