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World Series 2015: Full Schedule and Players Who Will Decide MLB Championship

The New York Mets didn’t want to leave any doubt in the minds of the casual fans. An 8-3 thrashing in Game 4 on Wednesday and a sweep of the Chicago Cubs meant they secured their place as the best team in the National League and a spot in the World Series.

Things haven’t been quite as cut-and-dry in the American League, with the Kansas City Royals holding a 3-2 lead on a Toronto Blue Jays team that got a big performance from its bats at exactly the right moment in Game 5.

But with only two games at most remaining in the American League Championship Series, the World Series is nearly upon us—which means it is time to start previewing the Fall Classic and what it will take to bring home the crown.

Let’s take a look at the remaining schedule for the playoffs and preview which players will have an impact on the final outcome of the World Series.


Players Who Will Decide World Series

Mets 2B Daniel Murphy

Has anyone ruled out the theory that Daniel Murphy is a wizard? Until there is substantial evidence to the contrary, I’m not willing to ignore the chance that the Mets second baseman is a practitioner of the Dark Arts.

Murphy finished the regular season with 14 home runs to his name—not a bad number among second baseman but not exactly the type of stats that would hint at what he has done in the postseason. Going yard seven times and in each of his last six games, the 30-year-old is playing like the best player in baseball heading into the World Series.

It would be fair to assume that Murphy is bound to come back to earth at some point in the near future, but seeing as he is already in uncharted territory in terms of baseball history, predicting anything for him would be folly.

The Mets have become the most exciting team in baseball in recent weeks and after completing a sweep of the Cubs are a step closer to securing the franchise’s first title since 1986, in large part thanks to Murphy.

Whoever wins the ALCS—the Royals lead the Blue Jays 3-2 heading into Friday’s Game 6 in Kansas City, Missouri—will have to be wary of Murphy now or risk watching the ball sail into the stands every night.


Royals P Johnny Cueto

As stated above, the Royals carry a 3-2 lead into Game 6—the first of two games at home—and look like the likelier of the two teams to advance to the World Series, even with the hitting the Blue Jays bring to the plate.

Brought in by the Royals at the trade deadline this season from the Cincinnati Reds, Johnny Cueto was the big-name pitcher Kansas City wanted as it became clearer and clearer that a second straight shot at the World Series was in the cards.

Since coming to Kansas City, though, Cueto has been less than consistent, recording a 4.76 ERA in 13 starts with the team in the regular season. Since the playoffs started, things have gotten even worse, with a 7.88 ERA masking an incredible performance in Game 5 against the Houston Astros.

When Cueto is on, he is still one of the best pitchers in the league and has the ability to shut down any lineup, but when he isn’t, having a stellar day in can be brutal—just ask the Blue Jays to whom Cueto gave up eight earned runs in two innings pitched.

The ALCS schedule has Cueto set to pitch in Game 7 against the Blue Jays should it be necessary, meaning even if the Royals don’t make the World Series, it will be partially on their ace pitcher. But if Game 6 does go in favor of Kansas City, Cueto will likely get the Game 1 start against New York and could set the tone for the series to come.


Mets P’s Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey

It doesn’t seem entirely fair to lump the Mets’ three young elite pitchers together—to say nothing of leaving out rookie Steven Matz, who has only started nine games in his career in the majors—but should the Mets win the World Series this year, it will be hard to separate 27-year-old second-year Jacob deGrom, 23-year-old rookie Noah Syndergaard and 26-year-old third-year Matt Harvey.

The Mets have been carried by their core of young pitchers this season in that trio, and even with the offensive explosion, not much has changed since the calendar turned to October.

The three have combined for eight starts in the postseason, allowing 12 total runs among them with the Mets, and won all but one of the games they have started, a 5-2 Game 2 defeat to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Division Series.

While Murphy is busy hitting an unbelievable amount of home runs for the Mets and stealing all the headlines, the pitchers have been going about their business like nothing has changed from the regular season, and that is all New York can ask of them.

This is a group of three pitchers—who are incredibly inexperienced—had never been to the playoffs before this season and are pitching like some of baseball’s greatest historical rotations. Whichever team emerges from the ALCS has a tough task on its hands in figuring out how to beat these pitchers. No one else has done it so far, so odds aren’t in the Royals’ or Blue Jays’ favor.

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NLCS Schedule 2015: Mets vs. Cubs Game Times, Odds and Prediction

In baseball’s long history of epic playoff moments and fantastical series comebacks, only once has a team come back from an 0-3 deficit to win a series. The 2004 Boston Red Sox gave many a team hope in the toughest of situations, but replicating their magic is next to impossible.

That was a team fighting not only against a seemingly insurmountable deficit, but against their archrivals and a curse that had plagued the franchise for many years. Although the Chicago Cubs don’t have the rivalry box checked in the National League Championship Series, they have everything else going for them the Red Sox had.

Falling to the New York Mets 5-2 Tuesday night, the Chicago Cubs face an 0-3 series deficit if they hope to break a century-old title drought. The bats that got them to the playoffs have suddenly gone quiet, and the pitching staff has become a shell of its former self.

New York has been playing its best baseball in recent weeks, though, and looks like an unstoppable force destined for the World Series to try and end a lengthy title drought of its own.

With Game 4 set for Wednesday night in Chicago, will the Cubs survive to see another day and keep their hopes, however slim, alive, or will the Mets finish things off quickly and move on to the World Series?

Let’s take a look at the game times for the rest of the series, the odds for Game 4 and make a prediction for Wednesday’s proceedings.

Game 4 Odds: New York Mets 1-2, Chicago Cubs 17-10

Odds via


Game 4 Prediction

The biggest knock on the Mets this season was their fluctuating offensive capabilities—although things were much better in the second half of the year—but so far in the postseason, there have been no such issues. It would be hard to find a more worthy MVP winner than Daniel Murphy, while Yoenis Cespedes has continued to provide a huge spark for the Mets as well.

But, as with the regular season, it’s hard to credit anyone before applauding the young pitching staff for the performances it has put together. On Tuesday, it was Jacob deGrom’s turn to thrill, and he did not disappoint.

The second-year pitcher went six innings and only gave up two earned runs on four hits. It was a masterclass in pitching under pressure and put the Chicago Cubs in a nearly impossible situation, down 3-0 in the series.

Fortunately for the Cubs, though, they don’t have to face deGrom in what could very well be the final game of their season. Instead, they get another youngster in Steven Matz, who isn’t quite at the same level as the other members of the Mets rotation but is still an elite talent for his age.

His regular-season performance was outstanding—4-0 and a 2.27 ERA—albeit short with only six starts to his name. But during that small sample size, Matz showed why those in the Mets organization are excited about his future. An opportunity to start a vital playoff game should prove the faith New York has in the 24-year-old pitcher.

The real question is if he can handle the pressure and the Cubs bats well enough for the Mets to secure the series in a hostile environment.

His first playoff start came against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Division Series, and it was also the first loss of his major league career and a showcase of what can go wrong on a given night. Only three earned runs allowed to Los Angeles is an achievement, but Matz never quite looked comfortable on the mound and was pulled after five innings.

Like the Dodgers, Chicago has the bats capable of shaking the pitcher’s confidence early, something the crowd will be more than willing to get behind. Kyle Schwarber, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo are good enough to take over a game against the best in the league, and Matz isn’t quite there yet.

Trotting Jason Hammel out could go either way for the Cubs, as the veteran hasn’t been the most consistent option this season, but the bats should be able to more than make up for any mistakes he makes.

Even if Murphy continues to tear the cover off the ball, Chicago should be up to doing just enough to keep the series alive for at least another game on the strength of its hitters. From there, it is still an uphill battle to win the series, but for now, focusing on the short term is the best thing for the Cubs.

Prediction: Cubs win 6-2

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NLCS Schedule 2015: Start Time, Odds, World Series Predictions Before Game 2

Matt Harvey had made one start in the postseason in his short career in the majors, and that was earlier this season. Jon Lester had started 13 games and carried a 2.66 postseason ERA over his long tenure with the Red Sox, Athletics and Cubs.

But in Game 1 at Citi Field, Harvey looked like the veteran superstar against the Cubs’ talented bats, going 7.2 innings and only allowing four hits and two runs as the Mets took the early series lead with a 4-2 win.

It was a typical performance from New York this season, relying on their skilled, if slightly inexperienced, group of pitchers while the offense put together a passable game to secure the win.

With the Mets taking a 1-0 lead in the NLCS and the Royals up 2-0 heading to Toronto in the ALCS, the World Series has to be on the minds of both sets of fans. But can they get there, or will the Cubs or Blue Jays battle back to steal the series?

Let’s take a look at which teams are likely to advance to the Fall Classic and who is best positioned to take home the title:


Date: Oct. 18, 2015

Time: 7:30 p.m.

Odds: Cubs -175, Mets +165

Odds via


World Series Prediction

Despite what was expected heading into the ALCS, the Kansas City Royals have taken complete control in the series and head to Toronto with a 2-0 lead. Blanking the Blue Jays in Game 1 was the perfect start, and a comeback win in Game 2 put last year’s runners-up in great position to return to the World Series.

Toronto has already used two of its top pitchers and still failed to secure a victory, while the Royals haven’t trotted out Johnny Cueto to pitch yet and should hold the advantage in Game 3 against Marcus Stroman.

If the Royals can manage a win in Toronto over the next three games, it will be hard for the Blue Jays to fight back into the series even with the powerful bats they have.

In the NLCS, the Mets played great defensively and shut down the vaunted young bats of the Chicago Cubs, doing just enough offensively to eke out a 3-1 win.

But with the talent the Cubs bring to the field on a nightly basis, it will be hard for New York to count on only giving up a single run every game and it remains to be seen if the Mets can keep up with Chicago in a high-scoring affair.

The Cubs get Jake Arrieta back for Game 2, which automatically gives them a huge advantage, and if they can win home-field advantage away from the Mets, Wrigley Field could be too much too handle over a three-game span.

With power hitting, youth and pitching on their side, the Cubs should be able to overcome the 1-0 deficit in the NLCS and join the Royals in the World Series.

The Cubs have shown time and again this postseason that they are one of the best power teams in the majors, but against the Royals, that seemingly means nothing. The bats of the Blue Jays have been largely held in check so far, and while Chicago is good, it can’t quite measure up to what Toronto brings to the plate.

Kansas City has the experience, the pitching and the batting to improve on last season’s result and claim the franchise’s second title in history. Chicago is the fun story this year and should challenge for the title for a long time, but the Chicago fans will have to wait at least another year before celebrating the ending of the drought.

World Series Prediction: Royals beat Cubs 4-2

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Cubs vs. Mets: NLCS Game 2 TV Schedule, Pick and Ticket Info

It’s based on a small sample size and one that is likely to change in the long run, but if his first two playoff starts are any indication, Matt Harvey should be a star for a long time.

All the talk surrounding the Cubs‘ young bats was deafening leading up to Game 1 of the NLCS on Saturday night, but the young Mets pitcher was having none of it and put in one of the best pitching performances of the postseason to secure the win.

With a five-inning, two-earned run night against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS already under his belt, Harvey has been one of the stars of the postseason so far. The Mets will turn to another young pitcher, Noah Syndergaard, in Game 2 with the hopes of securing the win against potential Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta.

Game 1 belonged to Harvey and the Mets, but the series is far from guaranteed, and Sunday night will go a long way toward deciding who is going to continue their dream of winning the World Series.

Let’s take a look at where to watch the game and who is going to win in Flushing, New York.


Date: Oct. 18

Time: 7:30 p.m.


Ticket Info:



New York was known for its talented group of young pitchers in the regular season, and so far in the playoffs, the narrative hasn’t changed.

Harvey was brilliant in shutting down the Cubs offensively Saturday night, only allowing four hits over 7.2 innings pitched, but the pitching advantage shifts back to Chicago in a big way in Game 2.

Syndergaard has been one of the surprises of the season despite his youth, recording a 3.24 ERA in the regular season. But his year doesn’t compare to the magical season that Arrieta has put forth.

The Cubs ace led the National League in wins, ranked second in ERA at 1.77 and finished third in strikeouts. His first playoff outing was a gem. He pitched a complete game, giving up five hits and no earned runs against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the Wild Card Game.

His second outing wasn’t as strong. He allowed four earned runs in 5.2 innings pitched against the St. Louis Cardinals, but after the second half to the season Arrieta had, the safe bet would be on that being an outlier with a bounce-back against the Mets coming.

New York’s bats showed up in Game 1, with homers from Travis d’Arnaud and Daniel Murphy and a two-RBI night from Curtis Granderson, but it is hard to count on them putting up big numbers throughout the series.

Chicago, on the other hand, has to be disappointed with how its offense performed in Game 1. Kris Bryant, Dexter Fowler and Anthony Rizzo finished hitless on the night with only Kyle Schwarber and Starlin Castro able to break out of the funk and pick up RBIs.

There is a lack of experience in the Cubs lineup, but with so much talent, the odds are good that Chicago will find a way to put up runs in Game 2 and give Arrieta the support he needs to win.

A win in Game 2 would be huge for either team. For the Mets, it would mean holding onto home-field advantage as the series shifts to a long trip to Chicago. For the Cubs, it could be a decisive win with Wrigley Field providing a difficult environment for the Mets.

Arrieta is just too good to be kept down for long, and he should come out strong against the Mets to help Chicago secure a victory and draw the series even at 1-1.

Prediction: Cubs 5, Mets 1

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ALCS Schedule 2015: Dates, TV Schedule, Early Odds and Picks

For those who switched the channel while Toronto Blue Jays fans were busy littering the field with beer cans and other loose pieces of garbage, they switched back to find one of the craziest single innings in postseason history.

From the controversial decision allowing the Rangers the go-ahead run in the top of the inning to Jose Bautista’s home run and bat flip heard ’round Canada, the inning had everything you could have asked for—unless you’re a fan of Texas, of course.

The Jays emerged from the melee—not literally; despite two bench clearings, there was never a brawl between the teams—victorious and moved on to the American League Championship Series, where they will face the Kansas City Royals, who won a Game 5 of their own against the Houston Astros 7-2.

Thus far, the playoffs have already lived up to expectations and then some, and with the ALCS set between two teams that have long been the underdogs, things can only get better from here.



Where the first half of the season belonged to the Houston Astros and their surprising transformation from bottom-of-the-barrel National League side to a title contender and one of the best teams in the league, the second half was all about the Toronto Blue Jays.

Acquiring some of baseball’s biggest names at the trade deadline, including pitcher David Price from Detroit and shortstop Troy Tulowitzki from the Colorado Rockies, the Blue Jays not only ended a playoff drought with relative ease but headed into the postseason with the second-best record in the American League behind only the Kansas City Royals.

Pairing baseball’s best shortstop with the likes of Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion—who finished first, third and fourth in the AL in RBI, respectively—the Blue Jays created a lineup no batter wanted to face and went on a tear following the All-Star break.

Heading into the playoffs, Toronto was considered one of the favorites to win it all and, despite losing its first two contests, showed off exactly what had made it one of the more entertaining teams in the league with a comeback win—in both the series and Game 5—against the Rangers.

But against Kansas City, last year’s runner-up for the World Series and the team with the best record in the AL, the Jays will by far face their stiffest test this season. How the world has changed with the Royals, now the veteran team facing off against an inexperienced group in Toronto, but an impressive run last season is being looked at as a stepping stone for Kansas City this year.

Taking down the Astros in their division series at home, the Royals put on an offensive showing in the series, averaging five runs per game, including scoring 16 total in the final two, both wins. The pitching was nothing to be scoffed at, either, with trade deadline acquisition Johnny Cueto living up to expectations, giving up two earned runs in eight innings in the decisive game against Houston.

Kansas City’s big bats from last year are back and are the driving force behind a team that was good but not great at both pitching and fielding. Fortunately for the Royals, their opponents also relied heavily on their bats for success, while the defense did enough to help the team secure big wins. Unfortunately for the reigning AL champs, the Blue Jays outclassed them offensively by a wide margin.

Outscoring their closest competitors by 127 runs in the regular season, the Blue Jays were baseball’s best offensive team and haven’t missed a step since the postseason started. Although ranked No. 3 behind the Astros and Cubs in total runs, the Blue Jays are averaging more than five runs per contest and have yet to score less than three in a game.

With emotions riding high after the epic win against the Rangers, Toronto should be able to take the early games from Kansas City and head relatively comfortably into their first World Series appearance since back-to-back titles in 1992 and 1993.

Prediction: Blue Jays win series 4-2

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World Series 2015: Updated Predictions Following ALDS

Following a pair of Game 5’s that had their fair share of drama, the American League is down to just two teams while the National League awaits the winner of the Mets-Dodgers series to see who will take on the Chicago Cubs.

With a much greater sense of clarity now after a pair of close series, the Toronto Blue Jays are set to face off against the Kansas City Royals in a matchup between the two best teams in the American League for an elusive spot in the World Series.

On the other side of the bracket the Chicago Cubs dispatched the Cardinals in four games and are now watching to see who will win the hotly contested Mets-Dodgers series, which has its Game 5 Thursday night in Los Angeles at 8:07 p.m. ET.

Whoever comes out on top is that much closer to the game’s ultimate prize, and as the playoffs approach their latter stages, teams’ dreams are starting to come into focus as reality sets in. The World Series sits on the horizon, but first let’s take a look at the updated bracket after the Royals’ and Blue Jays’ ALDS victories.



NLDS: Mets vs. Dodgers

In what has been a drama-filled series that everyone has come to expect when teams from Los Angeles and New York face off against each other, the Mets and Dodgers have to do it one more time in Game 5 to decide who gets to take on the Chicago Cubs in the NLCS.

The Mets have been in charge of the series, with the Dodgers doing just enough at the right times—the eighth inning of Game 2 being the perfect example—to hold on and force a Game 5. But having squandered home-field advantage in New York, the Mets will need to dig deep to secure another road victory to claim the series and move on.

The Dodgers look to have the advantage, both home field and on the mound, with Zack Greinke facing off against Jacob deGrom. The latter is young and, while he won the first time around against Los Angeles, it is hard to expect a pitcher to win both of his first two starts in the playoffs.

But there is something about the Mets this postseason, and they have the bats and the emotions following the Chase Utley slide in Game 2 to pull off the shock win in Game 5 and advance to take on the Cubs.

Prediction: Mets 4, Dodgers 1


ALCS: Blue Jays vs. Royals

With a slew of recent underdogs making their way into the playoffs on the American League side of things, there was plenty to look forward to in the ALDS series and neither disappointed, both getting pushed to a decisive Game 5.

The Jays escaped a much tougher ALDS series against the Texas Rangers than anyone expected, with the underdogs forcing a Game 5 with the series and a berth in the ALCS on the line. But after three straight wins and one of the wildest single innings in postseason history, the Jays are on to another stiff test in the form of the Kansas City Royals.

Last year’s casual darling, the Royals have capitalized on their recent success with another playoff series win, this time against the upstart Houston Astros. Despite a hard-fought battle from Houston, Kansas City came back from an early 2-0 deficit in Game 5 to secure the victory.

With the top two records in the AL set to face off in the championship series, sparks should be expected to fly, especially with fanbases as passionate as those in Toronto and Kansas City, but the Blue Jays’ bats will be enough to take them to the World Series for the first time since 1993.

Prediction: Blue Jays win series 4-2


NLCS: Cubs vs. Mets

For most of the season, the Cubs were thought of as a year away from success on the biggest stage. With so much talent but most of it young, many expected Chicago to push for a playoff appearance but not much else.

But now after dispatching the dynasty that is the St. Louis Cardinals 3-1 in the NLDS and beating out the Pittsburgh Pirates in the Wild Card Game, the future might be now for the Cubs who are looking like the best team in the playoffs.

With the best pitcher in the National League in Jake Arrieta, some of the best hitters in the league in Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber, the Cubs look better than they have in years. There is always a reason to be doubtful when it comes to the Cubs, but things look better than they ever have for the franchise.

You can’t rule out the Mets, who will be riding high after their tight series win against and who were pretty similar to the Cubs statistically during the regular season, but without the Cardinals or the Giants it is anybody’s ballgame, and the safer bet would be the team that has more talent, however small the gap is.

It will be a tough series, but in the end Chicago’s young talent wins out and sends the team to the World Series for the first time since 1945.

Prediction: Cubs win series 4-2


World Series: Cubs vs. Blue Jays

The Cubs might have the magic to end their streak of missing out on the World Series since 1945, but in Toronto they face their undoing and won’t be able to get that elusive, curse-breaking title.

Neither team has postseason experience coursing through their veins, but while Chicago has the young talent and drive to get past the Mets, the Blue Jays are flat out the best team in baseball and have been since a string of acquisitions at the trade deadline.

Bringing in players like David Price and Troy Tulowitzki to the already loaded offense the Jays had become known for in recent years was an inspired move that turned the season around for Toronto. The only thing left for them to achieve is a title and end a long streak of their own.

Chicago might be the sentimental favorites of many and has the much brighter future with the crazy amount of youth on its roster, but this season has been all about the Blue Jays and they will claim a much-deserved World Series title.

Prediction: Blue Jays wins series 4-3

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MLB Trade Rumors: Buzz Around Jeff Samardzija, Gerardo Parra and More

As we rapidly approach the All-Star Break, most teams in baseball have a pretty good idea of where they stand compared to the rest of the league.

While no team has technically been eliminated or clinched a playoff spot just yet, there is only so much a season can turn around in the second half, so teams are either looking to the now or to the future with the trade deadline on the horizon.

Although the deadline is still a decent way off, that doesn’t mean the rumor mill isn’t able to fire up now and again and provide us with some tasty little nuggets to consider before July 31 rolls around.


A number of teams interested in Jeff Samardzija

For teams looking for starting pitching at the trade deadline, a top option isn’t going to come cheap and although Cole Hamels and Johnny Cueto are both on underachieving teams and being shopped, it is White Sox pitcher Jeff Samardzija who could garner the most interest.

Samardzija joined Chicago in the offseason from the Oakland Athletics, and while he hasn’t quite lived up to expectations, he is a strong addition to any rotation and could change a team’s fortunes once the postseason rolls around.

There are a number of teams interested in bringing Samardzija on board, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, and he could have a serious impact on the rest of the season if the White Sox do decide to deal him away:

There’s always so much debate on where he fits on a pitching staff. He’s not a No. 1 and he’s not having the best of seasons, yet he’s one of the more discussed and desirable pitchers on the trade market.

Kansas City, Houston, Detroit, and others are in on him.

Scouts are constantly at this games so he may be the first starting pitcher to move ahead of the deadline.

The numbers this year aren’t great, with a 4.33 ERA and a 5-4 record, but Samardzija showed what he was capable of in 2014 with a combined 2.99 ERA with the Cubs and the Athletics.

For the White Sox, who find themselves 9.5 games behind the Royals and look to be already out of the playoff race, offloading Samardzija for some young talent to jump start a rebuild would make sense and looks likely.


Will Venable and Gerardo Parra on the Cubs radar

Although starting pitching is the focus at the trade deadline, and has been a relative strength for the Cubs through the first half of the season, the same cannot be said of their bats.

Ranking 24th in runs scored, the Cubs need offensive help in the worst way possible as they attempt to stay in the race for the playoffs, and Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports reports that Gerardo Parra and Will Venable are two players Chicago is interested in:

Two names to watch: Milwaukee’s Gerardo Parra, a two-time Gold Glove winner, and San Diego’s Will Venable, who played for Hoyer during his tenure as general manager of the Padres. Both Parra and Venable are considered excellent clubhouse citizens — a theme of recent Cubs’ acquisitions.

Parra has been linked with a number of teams this season, with ESPN’s Buster Olney reporting the San Francisco Giants are also interested. Although his power numbers aren’t great, the .311 batting average and 26 RBI would be a big boost for the Cubs offensively.

Venable’s numbers haven’t impressed as much as Parra’s this year—the veteran center fielder is only averaging .257 with six home runs and 22 RBI—but his connection to Hoyer could lead to a possible move before the deadline.


New York Yankees not in on top pitchers

This season hasn’t gone exactly how the Yankees wanted for star pitcher CC Sabathia.

With some of his skills already starting to slip in recent seasons, the former Cy Young Award winner has been ghastly through the first half of the season, recording a 5.59 ERA and a 3-8 record.

It remains to be seen what the Yankees do with Sabathia—if they decide to stick with him or drop him to the bullpen—but starting pitching is a definite need for the AL East club when the deadline rolls around.

According to Andrew Marchand of ESPNthough, the Yankees won’t be in the market for the top names like Hamels and Cueto and will look a little deeper into the talent pool:

The Yankees seem unlikely to add a top starter. Unless prices drop significantly, an ace like Cole Hamels or Johnny Cueto is probably too expensive. If the Yankees have an injury or want to replace CC Sabathia in the rotation, Adam Warren or Severino could be called upon.

Even with the struggles of Sabathia, the Yankees find themselves on top of the division and in prime position to make it back to the playoffs, thanks in large part to the resurgence of Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez.

But with the Orioles, Rays and Blue Jays all hot on their tails, adding another quality starting pitcher could give New York the boost it needs to survive one of baseball’s toughest divisions.

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MLB Spring Training Struggles Fans Should Start Worrying About

Spring training is the perfect time of year for the little things to be absolutely blown out of proportion. This team is doing well and this team is struggling, which means the regular season will be like that.

Very often, though, the spring is a time to iron out the kinks, and the struggles in March are completely forgotten by the middle of the summer. Teams like the Cleveland Indians and San Francisco Giants have been awful this spring but are still favorites to make the playoffs this year.

But for every team that overcomes the problems on display in spring, there is one that ignored the warning signs and watches the struggles continue deep into the season.


Baltimore Orioles

The Baltimore Orioles have been one of the more surprising teams of the past three years in MLB. Despite never developing an elite rotation, the O’s have used stellar defense and power hitting to make the playoffs in two of the last three seasons.

With Nelson Cruz, who led the American League in home runs last year, off to Seattle, Baltimore’s bats were already expected to take a hit. But the signs in spring have been worrying to say the least. Although the Orioles are third in homers with 24 so far, they are also 25th in batting average and 27th in on-base percentage.

The starting pitching issues are still there for Baltimore, and there is only so much that hitting home runs can do over the course of a 162-game season, so the poor hitting numbers aren’t a great sign for a team that hopes to take the next step this season.

The AL East isn’t the juggernaut it has been in past seasons, but something needs to be done if the Orioles are going to remain competitive and repeat the magic of last season’s run (highlights of which are in the video below).

Joey Votto

How long ago it seems the Cincinnati Reds were a dark horse pick to rally behind Joey Votto and claim the elusive World Series title the franchise hasn’t seen since 1990.

But after Votto missed 100 games last season, and the Reds finished 10 games under .500, it feels like the window might be closing on this current crop of players.

Coming into the spring, the fans were looking for signs to be optimistic. But they just haven’t been there so far. Votto, in particular, hasn’t bounced back in the way many had hoped, only hitting .250 with one home run and two RBI.

He has only played eight games so far, but the former MVP will be expected to shoulder the load for the Reds this year like he did in 2010. Highlights from that season can be seen in this highlight video, but his spring performance isn’t one that instills confidence.

While Votto’s numbers are the most likely to turn around of the players on this list, the only way the Reds return to the playoffs is if he repeats his 2010 campaign, an unlikely prospect if things continue the way they have so far.


Emilio Bonifacio

Never known as a player with the ability to tear the cover off the ball, Emilio Bonifacio has seen any hitting abilities he had completely fall by the wayside. So far this spring, the White Sox’s second baseman is hitting .097 with no RBI and five strikeouts.

The numbers are a bit deceiving, as Bonifacio still has an OBP of .243, but it is hard to ignore any player who is going to be in a regular in a lineup hitting less than .100. The White Sox will be chasing the Indians all season long and will need better production from their second baseman than what he has shown this spring.

Although a poor spring can be chalked up to just an off month, and players often turn things around once the regular season starts, Bonifacio’s numbers have been so awful that expectations are already lower than they once were.

It wouldn’t be a surprise if Bonifacio wasn’t the starter to start the season, with youngster Micah Johnson hitting .455 and likely to take control of the spot. If Bonifacio does lose his spot in the starting lineup early, it could be hard to get it back at all this season.

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2015 MLB Spring Training: Marcus Semien Is Turning Heads

Spring is the perfect time for young, inexperienced players to take that next step forward into one of the game’s elites. With the importance of the games, and thus the pressure on the players, decreased compared to that of the regular season, it is a time for youth prospects to thrive.

One such prospect in the early stages of spring training this year has been Oakland Athletics shortstop Marcus Semien.

After spending time with the Chicago White Sox, Semien was sent to Oakland as part of the Jeff Samardzija deal and wasn’t seen as anything special in his limited time in the majors to that point.

Hitting .240 with four home runs and 35 RBI, Semien wasn’t exactly tearing it up, and expectations were middling heading into this spring from everyone outside of the Athletics organization.

But, as has become something of a norm, Oakland proved just how much smarter it is than the experts around the league, as Semien has been nothing short of a star so far in spring training.

In his six games in the Cactus League with the A’s, Semien is hitting .500 with two homers, seven RBI and an OPS of 1.454. His first game in the spring featured a two-homer performance against the defending champion San Francisco Giants.

The power is something that the Athletics were hoping to get out of the 24-year-old, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see that continue as he gets more at-bats throughout the season. With only 85 games in the majors, the sample size for Semien is small, and hopes are his power will benefit as he becomes more comfortable in the majors.

Perhaps the biggest issue Semien has dealt with in his limited career thus far has been on the defensive side of the ball.

After being forced to play at second and third base for most of his time in Chicago, Semien has been inconsistent in the field while playing out of his natural position. But with the issues the A’s have had in recent years at shortstop, it is fair to expect that a long-term stint at shortstop would help boost Semien’s defensive numbers in the season.

“I think the White Sox believed in me at short too, but they had Alexei Ramirez,” Semien said, according to’s Christina Kahrl. “I was happy that they worked with me at those other positions, but now, here? Every rep that I get at shortstop, that’s what I’ve always wanted.”

It is almost always better to keep a player happy and comfortable, and it will usually result in an increase in production, which is exactly what the Athletics were hoping for when they dealt Samardzija.

If Semien can develop into the regular starter at short for Oakland, it will be yet another swing and a hit for one of the smartest franchises in the league.

Although, if he doesn’t, the A’s always have Will Ferrell to fall back on as an everyday shortstop.

In a year where the American League is as wide open as it has been in a long time, every move matters. And if the early parts of spring training are to be believed, Oakland made a good one with the addition of the power-hitting Semien.

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2015 MLB Spring Training: 5 Players to Watch Before Games Matter

Spring training is the best time of the year when it comes to baseball. All of the teams are an equal distance from getting to the promised land of a World Series—except the Philadelphia Phillies; they’re just terrible—and fans have a chance to watch their favorite teams play without the pressure of actual wins and losses.

It is also a perfect time for every mom-and-pop expert to tell you which players you should be watching in spring training, whether it be for the intriguing storylines or just the pure entertainment of watching them play, even though none of it really makes a difference in the long run.

So, without further ado, here are five of those players to keep an eye on before Opening Day.

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