With one week to go before the 2016 MLB Trade Deadline, things are heating up in the American League Central. The AL Central continues to be controlled by the same team while the teams behind them are pondering selling off some of their key pieces to start rebuilding for the future. One thing is for sure: the AL Central race is about to get a lot more interesting as the trade rumors start heating up.
Chicago White Sox
The White Sox had an eventful week. Record-wise, they continued to be inconsistent as they dropped two out of three to the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field and then came back home to U.S. Cellular Field to split a four-game series with the AL Central rivals the Detroit Tigers. More importantly, they are reportedly taking offers on two of their best pitchers in Chris Sale and Jose Quintana. Oh and just to add, it appears that Sale lost his mind this week as well. So it was pretty much just another regular week for the White Sox as their season has been surrounded in negative publicity.
Stud of the Week: Melky Cabrera
7 G, 30 AB, 11 H, 5 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 BB, 5 SO, .367/.387/.600
The switch-hitting outfielder has been, without question, the best hitter on the team so far this season. He has remained consistent in his approach and has been able to spray the ball all over the field in order to get on base and drive in runs. He came up big on Sunday as he delivered the walkoff single to lift the White Sox over the Tigers and turn Sunday into a fun day as it was the day after Sale’s big blow-up before the game.
Dud of the Week: Chris Sale
1 GS, 0-0, 8 IP, 0.00 ERA, 1 H, 0 R/ER, 3 BB, 6 SO, 0.500 WHIP
Sale isn’t a Dud due to a bad pitching performance. He pitched extremely well in Seattle. He is a Dud this week because he decided to throw a temper tantrum and end up getting himself sent home and suspended for five games. He didn’t want to wear the throwback jerseys for Saturday’s game against the Tigers. When his complaints were dismissed, he decided the best way to get noticed would be to grab a pair of scissors and cut up all the jerseys so no one could wear them. As one of the leaders of the team, no words can come to mind upon reading about this incredibly childish display.
It was a rough week for the Indians. They started things off by winning two out three against their division rivals the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium, but it should have been a sweep. Their bullpen once again coughed up a late-inning lead and cost them a chance at sweeping the Royals. They then traveled to Camden Yards to take on the Baltimore Orioles and left battered and bruised as the Orioles flexed their wings and swept them right out of Baltimore. The Indians look to have a busy week ahead of them, as they are reportedly sticking their noses around everywhere to get bullpen reinforcements and also perhaps a bat or two to add to lengthen their lineup.
Stud of the Week: Tyler Naquin
5 G, 18 AB, 2 R, 7 H, 3 2B, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 2 BB, 5 SO, .389/.450/.889
One of the leading candidates for the AL Rookie of the Year, Naquin had himself a week. He was a hitting machine and also flashed some muscle as he hit two home runs at the spacious Kauffman Stadium in one game. He was not considered to be a factor when the season first began, but he gave the Indians no choice but to add him to the roster due to a fantastic spring training. Despite getting sent down to the minors for a little bit, he has come back up and made adjustments to enable him to excel at the plate.
Dud of the Week: Trevor Bauer
1 GS, 0-1, 4 IP, 11.25 ERA, 5 H, 5 R/ER, 2 HR, 4 BB, 5 SO, 2.250 WHIP
It’s a shame to see this kid down here after all the strides he has made this season. Unfortunately, his performance against Baltimore on Saturday was not his best effort. He struggled with his location and fell victim to the long ball. It was a recipe for disaster against the free-swinging Orioles, who love to tee off, especially when they play in the homer-friendly Camden Yards.
The Tigers had a bad week. All of their games came against the AL Central, and they ended up posting a losing record for the week. They first lost two out of three to the lowly Minnesota Twins, then traveled to U.S. Cellular Field and settled for a split in a four-game series with the White Sox despite winning the first two games of the series. They’ve not played well against the AL Central all year, and that is the biggest reason why they have been unable to claim the top spot in the division. It has also been rumored that they won’t be buyers at this year’s deadline and will end up standing pat.
Stud of the Week: Justin Verlander
1 GS, 0-1, 8.0 IP, 1.13 ERA, 2 H, 1 R/ER, 1 HR, 2 BB, 9 SO, 0.500 WHIP
Don’t look now, but the Verlander of old is slowly returning. He’s pitching deep into games and getting stronger as the game goes on, not weaker. That’s huge for the Tigers, as their pitching depth is extremely suspect, so having the veteran right-hander step up and lead the rotation is much-needed as they continue to hang on for dear life in the AL Central.
Dud of the Week: Victor Martinez
7 GS, 21 AB, 0 R, 4 H, 0 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 5 BB, 3 SO, .190/.333/.190
The switch-hitting clean-up hitter is beginning to show signs of fatigue. Despite not playing much in the field, it appears Martinez is tiring. He’s still working counts and getting on-base alright, but his power is nowhere to be found right now. He’s in a slump. It happens to the best of them, and keep in mind he’s not a young man, either. Plus, he’s got bad knees. He will most likely recover in a short period of time, but last week was a week to forget for Mr. Martinez.
Kansas City Royals
Man, those Royals. It’s slowly becoming clear the defending World Series champs from 2015 are not going to be making much of an impact this year in the postseason. Their offense has been inconsistent, and their starting pitching hasn’t been nearly good enough. Their farm system is wiped out from all the deals they made last year to go for it all. There are whispers that they may sell off some impending free-agent before they end up leaving the Royals hanging. They lost two out three to the division-leading Indians, then dropped another series at home as the scuffling Texas Rangers were able to take two out of three. This is just not the Royals’ year.
Stud of the Week: Danny Duffy
1 GS, 1-0, 1.35 ERA, 6.1 IP, 4 H, 1 R/ER, 1 HR, 2 BB, 4 SO, 0.900 WHIP
Once again, the young southpaw is dominating on the mound. He’s pitching like the ace of the Royals staff, and that’s huge right now. While their postseason hopes look very dim at the moment, seeing a young pitcher like Duffy emerge gives them hope for the future and their rotation. While the rest of their rotation has been inconsistent, it seems every time Duffy takes the mound the Royals are guaranteed a win.
Dud of the Week: Eric Hosmer
6 G, 23 AB, 2 R, 4 H, 0 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 1 BB, 6 SO, .174/.208/.174
Right now, the Royals first baseman is mired in a slump of his own. His power right now is non-existent and he’s striking out a little too much. He has had a bad week. It’s not good that he’s in a slump, because if the Royals want to turn things around, this guy needs to get going again; otherwise, they’ll be watching another team lift up the World Series trophy in November.
The Twins had another decent week. They played spoiler and won the series against the Tigers, then played the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park and split a four-game series with them. The Twins’ record from here on out doesn’t mean anything other than what pick they’ll land in next year’s draft, but it is important to see how their young core plays down the stretch.
Stud of the Week: Miguel Sano
7 G, 28 AB, 3 R, 9 H, 2 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 10 SO, .321/.367/.500
Remember this guy? He can hit the ball really hard. That’s what the young slugger did last week, as he hit the ball hard and good things happened for him. He is most definitely a huge piece of the Twins offense moving forward. He is going to strike out a lot, but when he does put his bat on the ball, good things will happen and fans will get excited.
Dud of the Week: Byron Buxton
6 G, 20 AB, 1 R, 4 H, 0 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 1 BB, 9 SO, .200/.227/.200
The Twins’ former top prospect just cannot get the hang of it. He continues to struggle at the plate and is failing to show off the hitting tools that made him such a highly regarded prospect in the Twins system. He can be a menace on the base paths, but that doesn’t mean anything if he can’t get on base, and that’s exactly the struggle he is having right now.