By NOAH TRISTER, AP Baseball Writer
As the hours tick down to baseball’s trade deadline, three standout pitchers remain at the center of attention.
Sonny Gray, Justin Verlander and Yu Darvish each have the potential to help a contending team down the stretch, and if any of them are traded Monday, that would certainly spice up what has been a fairly pedestrian stretch of deals so far. The non-waiver trade deadline is at 4 p.m. EDT.
“Right now, it is business as usual until someone tells me something different,” Verlander said after pitching six scoreless innings in Detroit’s 13-1 win over Houston on Sunday. “The trade deadline can be a crazy time, because teams can come out of the woodwork, but I’m just keeping the status quo.”
There has been plenty of movement over the past couple weeks, with Jose Quintana, J.D. Martinez, Todd Frazier and Melky Cabrera all having been dealt. A handful of talented relievers also switched teams, but in the run-up to this year’s deadline, no really big names have been traded, like Cole Hamels in 2015 or David Price in 2014 and 2015.
That could all change on deadline day. Gray’s strikeout rate is the best it has been since his debut season in 2013, and at 27, the right-hander is younger than Verlander and Darvish. Verlander’s trade value is harder to assess because of his age (34) and his big contract, but he was a contender for the Cy Young Award as recently as last year. A team like the Dodgers — who have certainly been willing to spend — could be a reasonable fit for him.
The 30-year-old Darvish allowed 10 runs in 3 2/3 innings against Miami on Wednesday — not exactly an encouraging audition for any potential suitors. That raised his ERA from 3.44 to 4.01, but Darvish said afterward he’d been tipping pitches and could easily fix that problem.
Here are a few other developments from around baseball:
Toronto’s Steve Pearce hit game-ending grand slams on both Thursday and Sunday, the latter of which capped a seven-run ninth inning for the Blue Jays in their 11-10 win over the Los Angeles Angels.
Pearce’s hit Sunday came off Bud Norris, who also allowed a game-ending grand slam Tuesday to Cleveland’s Edwin Encarnacion.
Kyle Farmer of the Dodgers didn’t hit a grand slam, but he still made quite an impression in his first major league at-bat Sunday night. His two-run double in the 11th inning gave Los Angeles its eighth straight win, 3-2 over San Francisco.
Adrian Beltre became the first player from the Dominican Republic with 3,000 major league hits, reaching the milestone during Sunday’s game against Baltimore. That wasn’t his only head-turning moment of the week, however.
Beltre was ejected while he was on deck during Wednesday’s 22-10 loss to the Marlins — the same game in which Darvish allowed 10 runs. Crew chief Gerry Davis motioned for Beltre to get closer to the actual on-deck circle, and Beltre instead dragged the large plastic circle closer to him.
Davis immediately tossed Beltre, and the entire moment seemed to fit what was a fairly farcical game in general.
LINE OF THE WEEK
Andrew McCutchen, Pirates, hit three home runs Sunday in a 7-1 victory over San Diego.
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