LEADING OFF: Trade deadline nears, Cubs to get tougher tests
A look at what's happening all around the majors Thursday:
It's the final day of the All-Star break, and the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline is approaching. Contenders needing a closer are sure to be asking the Yankees about left-hander Aroldis Chapman. San Diego's Drew Pomeranz or Tampa Bay's Jake Odorizzi could wind up in new rotations. Colorado outfielder Carlos Gonzalez and Milwaukee catcher Jonathan Lucroy are among the top bats that could move, as well.
TOUGHER ROAD AHEAD
The Cubs raced to a big lead in the NL Central behind a bevy of All-Stars, but also while playing the second-easiest schedule in the majors, per Baseball Reference . The next few weeks should be a bit tougher. Chicago returns from the All-Star break with three games against AL-leading Texas and then plays the Mets, Brewers, White Sox and Mariners to close out July – all but Milwaukee are over .500 and competing for playoff spots. Chicago is up seven games on the Cardinals in the Central after going 2-8 in its final 10 games before the break.
The Rangers rotation will get a boost shortly after the break when right-hander Yu Darvish returns from the disabled list to start Saturday against the Cubs. Darvish missed the beginning of the season following Tommy John surgery and only made three starts before going back on the DL on June 9 with shoulder discomfort. The Japanese ace made two recent rehab starts with Double-A Frisco during his most recent DL stint, allowing five earned runs in seven innings.
Anthony Gose has tumbled from the majors all the way to Double-A this season following a demotion Wednesday. The Tigers outfielder was sent to Erie after he was in an altercation with Triple-A Toledo manager Lloyd McClendon during a game over the weekend. Gose has hit .209 in 30 games with the Tigers and .185 in 50 games with the Mud Hens this season. ''After collectively evaluating the situation in Toledo, we spoke with Anthony and emphasized our organization's expectations of him,'' Tigers general manager Al Avila said in a statement. ''Most importantly, Anthony's transfer to Erie is a move to give him a fresh start to his overall performance as he works his way back to Detroit.''