Gray made his 114th career start for the A's as rumors of the Yankees' pursuit of him continued to heat up:
Yanks would deal him in right trade https://t.co/CKRv7Ih8jw— Andrew Marchand (@AndrewMarchand) July 26, 2017
In six strong innings against the Blue Jays, Gray did give up four runs, but he wasn't hit hard, as his own error led to four unearned runs. He fanned nine and certainly looked like the kid who burst onto the scene in the 2013 postseason, with that quick arm action and ability to generate downward plane on his pitches, even though he's only 5-foot-10. His sinker was sharp, with five of his K's coming on the pitch, two from Jose Bautista. Gray also registered K's with his curveball, slider, changeup and fastball. In other words: He looks healthy, he's pitching well (as his 3.43 ERA indicates), he limits home runs ... and he's going to be traded.
A's fans have certainly become accustomed to these deals, but that won't make it easy to accept when Billy Beane eventually pulls the trigger -- whether it's with the Yankees or Nationals or Dodgers or somebody else. But trading Gray feels inevitable; given his injury issues in 2016, Beane probably has to cash in while Gray's value is high. Keeping him is risky, even if he is under team control through 2019. The A's are still rebuilding, and the closer Gray gets to free agency, the less value he has.
Who ends up with Gray? Keep in mind that Beane and Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo have made 11 deals, including one two weeks ago. Although the Nationals announced that Stephen Strasburg will make his next start, maybe there's enough concern there to make a deal.
As for Lynn, he has won 69 games with the Cardinals and has made a nice comeback from Tommy John surgery this year. He left in the seventh inning Tuesday with a 2-0 lead over the Rockies, though the bullpen blew it before the Cardinals won in the bottom of the ninth.
There are very few better guys around MLB than Lance Lynn. He's been a huge part of the StlCards success. His mental toughness is unmatched.— Anna McDonald (@Anna__McDonald) July 26, 2017
Lynn still relies on his sinking fastball, a pitch he throws 78 percent of the time. Because his secondary pitch is a slider, he has a pretty large platoon split -- .589 OPS versus righties and .788 versus lefties -- and while his ERA is at 3.21, he has allowed 21 home runs and has relied on a low BABIP, so it's hard to ascertain his trade value. The platoon split could scare some teams away, especially because a lot of top playoff contenders, such as the Dodgers, Nationals and Cubs, have lefty-heavy lineups.
It doesn't feel like it's the Cardinal way to trade away an asset such as Lynn. FanGraphs pegs the team's playoffs odds at about 22 percent (8 percent to win the division), and maybe that's enough to roll the dice and keep Lynn. Plus, it's not like he's going to bring back a game-changing prospect. I say he stays put and maybe even re-signs with the Cardinals in the offseason.
Welcome to New York. Todd Frazier grew up in New Jersey as a fan of the Yankees. There's the famous photo of him standing next to Derek Jeter after his Toms River team won the Little League World Series. His first at-bat at Yankee Stadium in pinstripes is certainly one he'll remember:
1. Bases loaded.— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) July 26, 2017
3. Bases unloaded. pic.twitter.com/Ch17xvmJFx
The Yankees beat the Reds 4-2 after Jordan Montgomery took a no-hit bid into the sixth inning, but Dellin Betances' control problems surfaced again, as he walked two batters and gave up a run while throwing 25 pitches to get just two outs in the eighth. He had allowed just one walk over his seven previous appearances, but the fact that manager Joe Girardi brought in Adam Warren to get the final out of the inning indicates that Girardi's confidence in Betances remains shaky.
Obviously, getting Gray to replace the injured Michael Pineda in the rotation would be a nice boost. Consider that if the Yankees can surge past the Red Sox to win the American League East (or advance past the wild-card game), a rotation with Gray and Luis Severino, plus all that bullpen depth with the additions of Tommy Kahnle and David Robertson -- check out the stats for Warren and Chad Green, who have been better than Betances and Aroldis Chapman -- would mean that the Yankees could bullpen their way through the postseason, similar to what Terry Francona did last October.
Kris Bryant gets ejected, but your grandmother still loves him. Bryant was ejected for the first time in his career, but it's hard to blame him for arguing with home plate ump Lance Barksdale after he was rung up on this pitch:
Another first for Kris Bryant: getting ejected. https://t.co/imvYRGbeyL— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) July 26, 2017
Here's what ESPN Stats & Information's Mark Simon said about the pitch location: "The pitch on which Kris Bryant was called out leading to the ejection has been called a strike in a 2-2 count to a right-handed batter 0.0 percent of the time this season. It's basically a one-of-a-kind strike call in that situation."
So there you go. In the end, it didn't matter, as the Cubs rolled to a 7-2 victory in a strange game. John Lackey survived even though he hit four batters, the first Cubs pitcher to do that since 1957. Javier Baez struck out five times. But most importantly, the Cubs are 9-2 since the All-Star break. They have two more games against the White Sox on the road before heading to Milwaukee for a big series over the weekend.
Lackey's season numbers are still pretty bad, including a 4.97 ERA and 25 home runs allowed in 108.2 innings. Still, Joe Maddon said after the game that Lackey will remain in the rotation; finding another starter via trade "has not been part of my discussion with Theo and Jed at all." Having acquired Jose Quintana, the Cubs seems content with a potential playoff rotation -- if they get there, of course! -- of Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta, Quintana and Lackey or Kyle Hendricks in the fourth spot. At this point, their trade rumors seem centered on acquiring a backup catcher for Willson Contreras, maybe A.J. Ellis or Alex Avila.
A grand victory for the Indians. It was a wild game in Cleveland, as the Indians took a 7-0 lead and saw the Angels come all the way back to tie before Edwin Encarnacion won it with a walk-off grand slam in the 11th inning, after Bud Norris had walked the bases full. Ouch.
It was the second walk-off grand slam of the season (Matt Carpenter hit one for the Cardinals) and the second grand slam of the game for Cleveland, as Bradley Zimmer hit one in the second inning. Zimmer has been struggling in July, so hopefully his 3-for-5 night with a walk will get the rookie turned around. That's five in a row for the Indians. As with the Cubs, maybe this is the time for that big hot streak everyone keeps waiting to happen.