Week Ahead: Deadline Deals Looming

·6 min read

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With the All-Star break now in the rearview mirror, MLB teams are clarifying their needs and intentions for the season’s stretch run. That means trades are imminent heading into the August 2 trade deadline.

One of the most prominent names on the trade block is Reds ace Luis Castillo. It’s not a sure thing that Castillo will be traded with one more season before he hits free agency, but the Reds would certainly maximize their return by moving him in a shallow starting pitching market.

Despite missing the first month of the season due to a shoulder injury, Castillo managed to make the NL All-Star team with a 2.77 ERA and 1.08 WHIP over 13 starts. The components are just as impressive as the results, with a 9.5 K/9 and only five home runs allowed in 78 innings.

Even with Castillo’s great results, he’s tallied only three wins on a last place Reds squad. Added is the fact that the Great American Ball Park has been among the most favorable hitter’s parks in the league since 2020, and by far the most favorable for home runs.

As a result, it’s very likely a trade would benefit Castillo’s performance down the stretch. That becomes part of the equation for fantasy managers who are counting on Castillo’s stats the rest of the way or determining his value in a fantasy league deal.

We can’t exactly account for the unknown of MLB Trade Deadline deals, but assessing probabilities of improvement or decline for players on the trade block is a potential incremental advantage that will make a difference in your final standings. There’s plenty of reason to keep your ears peeled on the rumor mill over the next two weeks for fantasy purposes.

-The break was also an opportunity for struggling players to recharge. Tarik Skubal was in a rut before the break, going 1-6 with a 7.46 ERA in 35 innings over his last seven starts. Hopefully, the extra time off did him some good, and Thursday’s start was a step in the right direction. The lefty tore through Oakland’s lineup, allowing one unearned run on two hits in six innings with nine strikeouts. The start featured a very heavy dose of sliders (42%), which has been his best pitch this season. The uptick is something to watch, and should create a bit more confidence for fantasy managers who have been nervous to utilize him lately.

-Skubal was one of the first half’s biggest underachievers by one significant measure: ERA minus FIP. We don’t always see positive regression for the first half underachievers, but it is one way to find buy-low candidates for the stretch run. Another significant pitcher who stands out using first half ERA minus FIP is Brewers starter Aaron Ashby. He has a disappointing 4.57 ERA following plenty of offseason hype, but his 3.92 FIP and 3.49 SIERA are an indication of better ERA potential. Many of the metrics that created such enthusiastic Ashby supporters before the season remain in place, with an elite 10.9 K/9 and 57% groundball rate. Fantasy managers are likely frustrated with the results, along with Brewers manager Craig Counsell’s quick hook, but Ashby is another pitcher who could have good days ahead, beginning with a very promising first of two starts next week vs. the Rockies in Milwaukee.

Going Twice…

Note: Probable pitchers as of Friday, July 22, and are subject to change.

American League

Strong Plays

Shane McClanahan: @BAL, CLE

Jordan Montgomery: @NYM, KC

George Kirby: TEX, @HOU

Decent Plays

Tarik Skubal: SD, @TOR

Corey Kluber: @BAL, CLE

Ross Stripling: STL, DET

Noah Syndergaard: @KC, TEX

Chris Flexen: TEX, @HOU

Jake Odorizzi: @OAK, SEA

Dane Dunning: @SEA, @LAA

Zach Plesac: @BOS, @TB

At Your Own Risk

Josh Winckowski: CLE, MIL

Rony Garcia: SD, @TOR

Spenser Watkins: TB, @CIN

Glenn Otto: @SEA, @LAA

Kris Bubic: LAA, @NYY

Kyle Bradish: TB, @CIN

Adam Oller: HOU, @CHW

National League

Strong Plays

Luis Castillo: MIA, BAL

Carlos Rodón: @ARI, CHC

Max Fried: @PHI, ARI

Tony Gonsolin: WAS, @COL

Pablo Lopez: @CIN, NYM

Decent Plays

Aaron Ashby: COL, @BOS

Jakob Junis: @ARI, CHC

Ranger Suárez: ATL, @PIT

Keegan Thompson: PIT, @SF

Andre Pallante: @TOR, @WAS

Chad Kuhl: @MIL, LAD

At Your Own Risk

Zach Thompson: @CHC, PHI

Trevor Rogers: @CIN, NYM

Bailey Falter: ATL, @PIT

Paolo Espino: @LAD, STL

Mitch White: WAS, @COL

Tyler Gilbert: SF, @ATL

Austin Gomber: CHW, LAD

Streamer City

The following pitchers are generally available in over 50 percent of fantasy leagues and have favorable match-ups this week:

American League

Wednesday, July 27: Devin Smeltzer @ MIL

Hitting lefties has been one of Milwaukee’s weaknesses this season, with a .675 OPS (sixth worst). Smeltzer could rejoin the Twins after a brief demotion, and has been effective this season with a 4.02 ERA and 1.21 WHIP.

Wednesday, July 27: Chase Silseth @ KC

Silseth has a better long-term future than his rookie numbers would indicate, but was rushed to the majors after dominating at Double-A. The KC lineup is still too enticing to pass up, sporting a .674 OPS against right-handers.

Thursday, July 28: Luis Patiño @ BAL

Patino is here to stay in the Rays rotation after returning from an oblique injury, and the former top prospect has a favorable matchup against Baltimore. The O’s have a .692 OPS against right-handed pitching.

National League

Tuesday, July 26: Adrian Sampson vs. PIT

Sampson has found strings of success in MLB, but has usually been a time bomb. We can only hope Sampson has another few quality starts left, and the Bryan Reynolds-less Pirates lineup will help. Pittsburgh has the worst OPS in the NL against right-handers (.662).

Wednesday, July 27: Nick Lodolo vs. MIA

It’s been a frustrating rookie season for Lodolo, but his 38/12 K/BB in 26.1 indicates better days ahead. Miami has been downright pitiful against southpaws this season with a .602 OPS.

Friday, July 29: Mike Minor @ BAL

Minor is a candidate to be moved before the trade deadline, showing signs of life lately with a 3.86 ERA over his last three starts after missing the first two months to shoulder issues. He visits a roomier Camden Yards late in the week, and a Baltimore lineup with a .678 OPS against lefties (seventh worst in MLB).

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Total Games

American League




National League




The Infirmary

Here’s some injuries to prominent players from the last week, and other players to watch for in the coming week. You can get a full listing of injured players at NBCSports Edge’s Injury Page.

Jalen Beeks: Placed on IL (leg)

Jon Berti: Placed on IL (groin)

Beau Briske: Placed on IL (forearm)

Brandon Crawford: Placed on IL (knee)

Dakota Hudson: Placed on IL (neck)

Ryan Jeffers: Out 6-8 weeks (thumb)

Brad Miller: Placed on IL (neck)

Harold Ramirez: Placed on IL (thumb)

Chris Sale: Out 4-6 weeks (finger)

Dominic Smith: Placed on IL (ankle)

Mike Trout: Placed on IL (ribs)

Juan Yepez: Placed on IL (forearm)