As the MLB trade deadline is quickly approaching, we have a greater idea of which teams will be buyers and which will be sellers.

One of the biggest commodities during the trade deadline will be starting pitching.

No team can have enough pitching and with all six divisions being decided by six games or less, the races are closer than ever.

A good starting pitcher can mean the difference between a team ending its season in disappointment and a team reaching the playoffs. 

Besides Cliff Lee and Roy Oswalt, two of the more interesting pitching options on the market are Jake Westbrook of the Cleveland Indians and Ben Sheets of the Oakland Athletics.

Both of these pitchers have the talent to be a second or third starter and will cost considerably less than Lee or Oswalt.

It is very likely that both of these pitchers will land in the National League East.

The Mets, Braves, and Phillies are all in a tight playoff race and all three teams lack depth in their starting rotations.

If I had to guess, I would predict Ben Sheets will end up in New York and Jake Westbrook will have a new home in Philadelphia.

The Mets expressed interest in Ben Sheets during the off-season and he could provide the team some much needed pitching depth.

It is unlikely R.A Dickey and Hinsori Takahashi will continue their hot starts while John Maine and John Niese are still injury risks.

Signing Ben Sheets would give the Mets a pitcher with great raw talent.

The Mets realized Sheets isn’t a polished pitcher but his potential down the stretch, combined with his recent successes, will make him a viable option for New York.

Ever since losing J.A. Happ to an early season injury, the Phillies have been looking for pitching help.

The team has recently contacted Pedro Martinez about returning for the second half of the year.

Although Pedro Martinez has plenty of playoff experience,he does not have a great deal of velocity. I question his ability to pitch quality starts week after week without breaking down.

For the right price, Pedro may be worth a chance but Jake Westbrook is a much safer bet for the team.

Westbrook has a career ERA under four and is less of an injury risk.

The reason why I don’t see the Braves landing Westbrook or Sheets is because I think they are the front runners to land Cliff Lee.

Unlike the Mets and Phillies, the Braves lack a number one starting pitcher (the Mets have Johan Santana and the Phillies have Roy Halladay). Cliff Lee can be that answer.

Lee pitched brilliantly last year in the playoffs and would provide the relatively young Atlanta Braves roster with some much needed postseason experience.

Although Roy Oswalt is a likely target for all three of these teams, it is doubtful any of them will get the Astros hurler.

Oswalt is a long-term commitment, unlike the aforementioned three starters and has a no trade clause.

This combination of factors will most likely not land him in the National League East.

It will be interesting to see how the NL East shapes up in the next few weeks.

It will be a tight race until the end and all three contenders will look to the pitching market to gain a competitive advantage.

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