The Week Ahead: Wheeling and dealing

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With the non-waiver trade deadline looming on Friday, this coming week
is one of the most exciting of the baseball season. It’s not quite the
World Series, but is not unlike the World Series of Poker.

Player 1: You don’t want to give up your entire minor league system for my pitcher? Fine, then I’ll deal with this other guy.

Player 2: No problem, I think player No. 3’s pitcher is better anyway.

Player 3: Really? Cool!

You know some teams are bluffing, others are slow-playing their
winning hands, while still others are just hanging around, trying to
gum up the works. That is what is so fascinating about the march to the
trade deadline.

Roy Halladay is, of course, the big prize out there. Will he be traded? Sometimes it seems inevitable, other times unlikely. It all depends on the day of the week hour of the day.

Will Doc go to the Phillies? The Red Sox? The Rangers? Would the Yankees (GASP) part with Joba Chamberlain?

It’s enough to make the head spin. And that’s just Halladay.

What about Cliff Lee, the Indians ace who won the 2008 AL
Cy Young award? The Dodgers, Angels and Phillies (if they’re really
giving up on Halladay) appear to be lurking. Will Cleveland also deal
Victor Martinez?

Looking further down the list, teams might be turning to the likes of Jarrod Washburn, who is quietly having his best season since at least 2002, maybe ever.

With the Mariners’ destruction at the hands of the Indians over the
weekend, the departure of Washburn (scheduled to pitch Tuesday) and
Russell Branyan could be imminent. Could a match be found with the Brewers?

And how about the disaster known as the Washington Nationals? Nick
Johnson, Adam Dunn and others could all be heading (they hope) to
newer, sunnier destinations where fans go to games and jersey
adornments are spelled correctly.

And that, friends, is the tip of the iceberg. It will be a wild week, a
rollercoaster of sketchy rumors, breathless television updates and, of
course, terrific Tweets.

We’ll do our best to keep you updated on everything here at Circling the Bases, as well as on our rumors page.

Oh and one last thing: Not to rain on anyone’s parade, but here are five reasons trade deadline deals are overrated. Don’t let it spoil your fun.

More after the jump …

FIVE SERIES TO WATCH

*Yankees at Rays, July 27-29: The Rays have to at least
hold their own in this series to stay within reach. Especially when you
consider that the Red Sox are right there ahead of them, too.

*Astros at Cubs, July 27-29: The Cubs have ridden a
four-game winning streak to the top of the NL Central. But in this
amazingly tight division, the Astros, just two games back, have a
chance to make some noise.

*Dodgers at Cardinals, July 27-30: The Matt Holliday deal
has Cardinals fans buzzing, although the team has not yet taken off.
Now, with a four-game series against the league’s best team
(record-wise), it’s time to deliver.

*Blue Jays at Mariners, July 27-29: Neither one of these
teams appear to be going anywhere as far as the postseason is
concerned, but the trade deadline is another matter. Jarrod Washburn
and Roy Halladay are both scheduled to pitch in this series, and a
number of other potential trade candidates will take the field.

*Phillies at Giants, July 30-Aug. 2: The defending
champions are on a roll, having won eight of their last 10 games. The
surprising Giants are in the thick of the NL wild card race, but this
four-game series could prove crucial.

ON THE TUBE

Monday, 7:05 p.m. ET: Dodgers at Cardinals (ESPN)

Wednesday, 7:08 p.m.: Yankees at Rays (ESPN)

*Saturday, 4:10 p.m.: Yankees at White Sox (FOX)

*Saturday, 4:10 p.m.: Royals at Rays (FOX)

*Saturday, 4:10 p.m.: Dodgers at Braves (FOX)

Sunday, 4 p.m.: Phillies at Giants (TBS)

Sunday, 8:05 p.m.: Dodgers at Braves (ESPN)

*Check local listings

The Tigers are trying to convert Anthony Gose into a pitcher

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Tigers’ center fielder Anthony Gose wants to try his hand at pitching, according to comments made by manager Brad Ausmus on Sunday. Gose is poised to start the year in Triple-A Toledo after receiving a midseason demotion to Double-A last summer following an altercation with Triple-A manager Lloyd McClendon.

While the experiment won’t detract from Gose’s outfield work in Triple-A, the 26-year-old is expected to take on additional bullpen sessions throughout the year. According to MLB.com’s Jason Beck, the left-handed hitter last took the mound in high school, where his fastball was clocked as fast as 97 m.p.h. Gose ultimately rejected the idea of starting his professional career as a pitcher, despite receiving favorable assessments from scouts.

Ausmus said the idea first surfaced at the end of the 2016 season. It appears to be a fallback option for the outfielder, who has struggled at the plate over his five-year career in the majors. Via Chris McCosky of the Detroit News:

Doolittle in Oakland did it and he was in the big leagues a couple of years later,” Ausmus said. “It’s going to take some time. He’s going to have to be a sponge and catch up on experience fast. But we feel it’s worth investigating.

Stephen Strasburg is the Nationals’ Opening Day starter

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Nationals’ right-hander Stephen Strasburg will take the mound for the club on Opening Day, manager Dusty Baker said on Sunday. The news is hardly surprising given Max Scherzer’s questionable status this spring, though it had yet to be confirmed by the club.

Strasburg is approaching his eighth run with the club in 2017. He went 15-4 in 2016, finishing the year with a 3.60 ERA, 2.7 BB/9 and 11.2 SO/9 in 147 2/3 innings. This will mark his fourth Opening Day assignment with the Nationals.

Scherzer, the Nationals’ Opening Day starter in both 2015 and 2016, is scheduled to make his season debut sometime during the first week of the season. The right-hander is expected to take things more slowly this spring as he finishes rehabbing a stress fracture in his finger.

The Nationals will open their season against the Marlins on April 3.