With Recent Surge, Madison Bumgarner Changes Trade Deadline Dynamic
Madison Bumgarner, LHP, Giants
Just in time for the trade deadline, Bumgarner is pitching his best. The veteran lefty has a 1.55 ERA over his last five starts with 34 strikeouts against just five walks in 29 innings, lowering his season ERA from 4.28 to 3.65. With his surge, the Giants have followed. San Francisco is 16-3 in its last 19 games and has pushed above .500 for the first time since August of last season. Now only two games back of a wild card spot and with Bumgarner pitching well, the Giants can set a high trade price for their ace and hold onto him if no team matches it. With his recent performance, Bumgarner has changed the entire dynamic of the trade deadline.
Lourdes Gurriel, OF, Blue Jays
While the Blue Jays’ season continues to spiral—their 38-64 record is fifth-worst in baseball—there has been one promising development: the emergence of Gurriel. The touted 25-year-old Cuban is making good on the seven-year, $22 million deal Toronto gave him in the fall of 2016, batting .288 with a team-high 18 home runs through just 64 games in his sophomore campaign. Over the last month, he ranks in the top 10 in the majors in hits (33), home runs (nine) and total bases (68), showing the offensive impact that made him a Top 100 Prospect as soon as he signed.
Yuli Gurriel, 1B, Astros
And then there’s the other Gurriel. The 35-year-old Yuli, who signed a five-year, $47.5 million contract in July 2016, has hit .374 with an MLB-best 14 home runs and 31 RBIs over the past month, helping the Astros pull within .009 percentage points of the Yankees for the American League’s best record. In addition to home runs and RBIs, Gurriel also leads the majors in total bases (86), slugging percentage (.869) and OPS (1.279) over the last month. Like his brother, he is showing he was worth the large contract he received coming out of Cuba.
Yusei Kikuchi, LHP, Mariners
Touted as the next great Japanese pitcher and signed to a deal worth up to $109 million last offseason, Kikuchi has thus far disappointed as a rookie. Kikuchi fell to 4-7, 5.37 after his latest series of disappointing outings, including back-to-back poor starts against the Angels. After pitching to a 3.43 ERA and holding opponents to a .226 batting average over his first 11 starts, Kikuchi has a 7.85 ERA and .347 opponent average in his last 10 starts. Opponents are teeing off on his fastball in particular, batting .337 with a .607 slugging percentage against his heater, per Statcast.
Willy Adames, SS, Rays
The one-time top prospect just can’t seem to get untracked. Adams has hit .188 over the past month, continuing to be a drain on a Rays offense that ranks in the bottom half of the majors in both runs scored and OPS. He’s now batting .235/.293/.375 on the season. While still young at just 23, it hasn’t been the offensive production expected of a player who ranked as high as the game’s No. 10 prospect at his peak, and the scuffling Rays need more to keep pace in the AL playoff picture.
Austin Riley, OF, Braves
After a scorching start, Riley has come back down to Earth. The 22-year-old has hit .179/.231/.345 over his last month of games, a far cry from the .291/.345/.619 he had hit up to that point. Riley is particularly struggling against breaking stuff. According to Statcast, he is batting .194 with a 47.8 percent whiff rate against breaking pitches, a trend that is going to have to change for him to get back to his mashing ways.