Fake trade: Tigers get Ted Lilly from Cubs

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ted lilly throwing.jpgTigers acquire LHP Ted Lilly and cash from the Cubs for RHP Joel Zumaya.
Why it works for the Tigers:
The early signs point to the AL Central playing out much like it did last year, with Minnesota and Detroit going down to the wire and no wild card available for either. The Tigers, though, might need one more starter to hang with the Twins all season long. Rick Porcello will be fine, but Max Scherzer has been a bust and Jeremy Bonderman is probably just a No. 4 at this point of his career. They could really use a lefty capable of following Justin Verlander in a postseason rotation, and Lilly is just that. He had a 3.10 ERA for the Cubs last season, and he has a history of being an above average, if unexceptional, starter in the AL.
Of course, the Tigers would be giving up a big piece of their team in this deal. Perhaps they’d be better off waiting to see if Cliff Lee became available in July. However, realistically, they’d be a very poor bet to win a bidding war for any top talents. While losing Zumaya would hurt quite a bit, the Tigers would still have a hard-throwing right-handed setup man in Ryan Perry, a couple of solid lefties in Phil Coke and Fu-Te Ni and a potentially huge wild card in Scherzer. The Tigers would be crazy to give up on Scherzer as a starter, but if the rotation seems sound without him, then a temporary shift to the pen would make sense.
Why it works for the Cubs:
I don’t think it does. But it was the Cubs’ idea to move one of the game’s winningest and highest-paid starters into a setup role last month. Since that didn’t work out, they’re still looking for an eighth-inning guy to put in front of Carlos Marmol, and they now have an extra starter to barter with. Ideally, they’d trade Carlos Silva instead. But Silva isn’t going to bring this kind of return. Lilly might.
Zumaya, for what it’s worth, has been positively dominant this year, amassing a 1.90 ERA and a 26/4 K/BB ratio in 23 2/3 innings. The greatly improved walk rate has come as a very pleasant surprise. Still, he’s very risky. Since pitching 83 1/3 innings as a rookie in 2006, he’s been limited to 111 2/3 innings over 3 1/4 seasons. More shoulder problems are always a possibility.
Why it won’t happen:
There’s just too much downside for both teams. Both Lilly and Zumaya have battled arm woes in the recent past, and it’d be risky to give up such a substantial piece for either, even if it’d be trading risk for risk in this case. There’s also the fact that Lilly is making $12 million this year, while Zumaya is earning $915,000, meaning the Tigers would likely want some money to change hands. Furthermore, Lilly has no-trade protection and might not be interested in such a deal.

Dodgers top Giants, clinch fifth straight NL West title

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The Dodgers are NL West champions for the fifth time in a row. They clinched with a 4-2 win over the Giants on Friday night, taking their first and only lead on a mammoth record-breaking home run from Cody Bellinger in the third inning.

Rich Hill turned in another quality start, going six innings with five hits, a run and nine strikeouts to keep the Giants at bay. He tacked on an RBI hit of his own, too, lashing a double to left field for his first extra-base hit since 2007.

The Giants, meanwhile, deployed Jeff Samardzija and his 4.42 ERA for 4 1/3 innings. Samardzija was on the hook for the Dodgers’ four-run spread in the third and took his 15th loss of the season. Pablo Sandoval came through with a solo home run in the ninth, but the rest of San Francisco’s offense wasn’t so lucky against Kenley Jansen, who struck out the side to clinch the game — and the division.

After Friday’s showstopper, the Dodgers are just two wins away from their first 100-win season since 1974. If they win the remaining eight games of the season, they’ll beat out the 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers for the most wins in franchise history.

Watch: Cody Bellinger breaks NL rookie home run record

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Cody Bellinger helped the Dodgers to their first lead on Friday night, going deep for his 39th home run of the season and setting a new National League rookie home run record in the process. With two on and two out in the third inning, the Dodgers’ slugger launched a 2-1 pitch from the Giants’ Jeff Samardzija, skimming the right field fence to give the team a three-run cushion:

The three-run bomb was Bellinger’s sixth of the season. In what is undoubtedly a Rookie of the Year award-worthy campaign, he’s logged 21 solo shots, 11 two-run blasts and a single grand slam. His historic home run topped former NL rookie leaders Frank Robinson and Wally Berger, at 38 homers apiece.

The Dodgers need to stay on top of the Giants to clinch the NL West or, barring that, have the Marlins pull off a win over the Diamondbacks. They currently lead the Giants 4-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Marlins, meanwhile, are staying just ahead of the D-backs with a 9-7 lead in the top of the sixth.