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MLB Week 19: A Look Ahead at Key Storylines and Matchups

Trenton Thunder third baseman Alex Rodriguez
Trenton Thunder third baseman Alex Rodriguez

Aug 2, 2013; Trenton, NJ, USA; Trenton Thunder third baseman Alex Rodriguez looks on against the Reading Fighting Phils at Arm & Hammer Park. Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Major League Baseball is getting set to deliver one of its biggest announcements ever, and Alex Rodriguez finds himself at the center of it. While much of the MLB spotlight will be focused on the Biogenesis saga this week, it shouldn’t detract too much from the action on the field. Less than a third of the regular season remains and there is too much at stake to focus solely on the PED problems plaguing the game, however it surely can’t be ignored.

Biogenesis Culmination – D-day has finally arrived for Major League Baseball. After months of investigating, Major League Baseball is finally ready to issue its suspensions in connection to the Biogenesis scandal. That, of course, means Alex Rodriguez will take center stage. He has refused to accept a plea deal, and has vowed to fight any penalty levied against him, which is now believed to be 214 games. The ironic part is that he is set to return to the Yankees lineup on the same day he will be suspended. Because of his appeal he will be allowed to play until an arbitrator makes a ruling. The real drama is just getting started as A-Rod will be with the team while this messy process plays out. Meanwhile, 12 other players will also be suspended on Monday, including a few stars. They are Jhonny Peralta, Nelson Cruz, Jesus Montero, Everth Cabrera, Francisco Cervelli, four minor leaguers, and three other players yet to be named—but who are not believed to be big names. The only question is whether any of these players will appeal the 50-game suspension. While Melky Cabrera, Bartolo Colon, and Yasmani Grandal have been linked to Biogenesis, as well, they will avoid suspensions because they were already penalized for PED usage.

Trade Season Continues – Most baseball fans were largely disappointed with this year’s uneventful trade deadline. It was one of the most inactive in years and left contenders with holes that still need to be filled and sellers with assets they don’t necessarily need. Luckily for everyone, there are still probably a few more deals left to be made, and, at the very least, there will be trade discussions among teams this week. Thanks to the waiver trading period, organizations still have about three-and-a-half weeks to make a deal with players they claim on waivers, or those who clears waivers all together. While it might be a little tougher to make a trade, it’s hardly impossible. Just look at last year’s blockbuster between the Red Sox and Dodgers that sent Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, and Adrian Gonzalez out west. That happened on August 25. A trade of such magnitude again would be unlikely, but there could be several impact players who could be on the move. Some names to keep an eye on: Tim Lincecum, Justin Morneau, and Michael Young.

A.L. Central Heats Up – For a good team, the Kansas City Royals may be the unluckiest in baseball right now. The Royals sit in third place in the A.L. Central and have been on fire lately, having won 11 of 12 games. But they have gained just one game on second place, and haven’t been able to get any closer to the division lead. That’s because the Indians have won 10 of their last 11 and the Tigers have won 12 of 13. That’s a combined record of 33-3 for those three teams. That doesn’t happen in baseball. Something has to give this week. Beginning on Monday night, Detroit heads to Cleveland for a four-game series. The Tigers currently hold a three-game lead over the Indians. If there is any sort of consolation prize for Kansas City, which still sits 7.5 games back of Detroit, it is that the team is within 4.5 games of a wild card spot. They open up a three-game series against Minnesota on Monday.

Matchups of the Week – The most intriguing matchup of the week comes in a series involving the Marlins. That’s because two of the game’s best young pitchers, and future aces, will duel on Thursday afternoon. Miami’s Jose Fernandez will oppose Pittsburgh’s Gerrit Cole. Fernandez has been unbelievable this year, posting a 2.54 ERA with 138 strikeouts, and he’s coming off a 14-strikeout performance, which followed a 13-strikeout game. He is 21. Cole, meanwhile, won his first four major league starts and owns a 3.69 ERA. The 2011 first overall pick has not allowed more than three runs in any of his 10 career starts. He is 22. This should be a fun one to watch, as should these:

Monday: Mike MinorStephen Strasburg, Zack GreinkeAdam Wainwright

Tuesday: Julio TeheranGio Gonzalez, Justin VerlanderJustin Masterson, Hiroki KurodaChris Sale

Wednesday: Bartolo Colon-Homer Bailey

Thursday: Jon LesterBruce Chen, Jose Fernandez-Gerrit Cole

Friday: Jake PeavyErvin Santana, Francisco LirianoJorge De La Rosa

Saturday: Zack WheelerPatrick Corbin

Sunday: John LackeyJames Shields, Justin Verlander-Andy Pettitte

Series to watch: Braves-Nationals, Dodgers-Cardinals, Athletics-Reds, Rays-Diamondbacks, Red Sox-Royals, Tigers-Yankees, Pirates-Rockies, Rays-Dodgers

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