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Report: Giants, Cardinals, and Phillies were most aggressive in pursuit of Giancarlo Stanton this summer

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In a recent column for FanRag Sports, Jon Heyman reports that the Giants, Cardinals, and Phillies were the “most aggressive” in pursuit of Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton this summer. Stanton, of course stayed put, but this remains relevant because the Marlins are expected to hold another firesale under new ownership. Stanton, as well as Marcell Ozuna, Christian Yelich, and J.T. Realmuto could be traded, Heyman notes.

Stanton, 27, fell just shy of 60 home runs this past season, finishing with a major league-best 59 dingers and 132 RBI while slashing .281/.376/.631 in 692 plate appearances. It marked only the sixth season out of eight in which he was able to cross the 600-PA threshold. That, and Stanton’s massive 13-year, $325 million contract (of which $295 million and 10 years remain) hampers Stanton’s trade value a bit.

According to Heyman, Stanton places a high priority on winning now, which might make the Cardinals and some other teams on the periphery like the Dodgers and Red Sox a better fit than the Phillies, Giants, and some others.

The Astros gave the Yankees an opening. Keuchel and Verlander will try to close the door.

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If Game 4 of the ALCS had been even remotely conventional, it’d stand at 3-1 in favor of Houston right now. The Yankees’ starter pitched well but got no run support. A mighty Astros team with an ordinarily good closer in Ken Giles had a 4-0 lead in the late innings. As the Yankees set out to mount a comeback, a base runner fell down in between first and second and should’ve been dead to rights. This is playoff baseball, however, so stuff, as they say, happens. The runner was safe, the closer struggled, the Yankees rallied and now we’re tied 2-2.

But are we even at 2-2?

On paper, no, because the Astros now will send Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander out in Games 5 and 6, and that gives them a clear advantage. Keuchel dominated the Yankees in Game 1, tossing seven scoreless innings and striking out ten batters. Verlander struck out 13 batters in a 124-pitch complete game in which he allowed only a single run. Beyond the mere facts of the box scores, however, the Yankees have looked profoundly overmatched by both of the Astros’ aces, in this postseason and on other occasions on which they’ve faced off against them. Most notably in the 2015 wild-card game at Yankee Stadium when Keuchel pitched six scoreless innings in the 3-0 victory.

But remember: stuff happens.

Stuff like Aaron Judge‘s and Gary Sanchez‘s bats waking up. The two most important sluggers in the Bombers lineup combined to go 3-for-6 with two doubles, a homer, a walk and five RBI in last night’s victory. Each of them had been silent for the first three games of the series but if they’re heating up, the Yankees will be a lot harder to pitch to.

Stuff like Masahiro Tanaka showing that he can tame the Astros’ lineup. Which he did pretty well in Game 1, giving up only two runs on four hits in six innings. He was overshadowed by Keuchel in that game, but it was a good performance against a strong lineup in a hostile environment. Tanaka pitches much better at Yankee Stadium than he does on the road, so don’t for a second think that the Astros bats will have an easy time of it today.

Stuff like the Yankees bullpen still being the Yankees bullpen. Yes, the Astros got to David Robertson yesterday, but it’s still a strong, strong group that gives the Yankees a clear advantage if the game is close late or if they hold a lead.

All of which is to say that we have ourselves a series, friends. While, 48 hours ago, it seemed like we were on our way to an Astros coronation, the Yankees have shown up in a major way in Games 3 and 4. If you’re an Astros fan you should feel pretty confident with Keuchel and Verlander heading into action over the next two games, but we have learned that absolutely nothing is guaranteed in the postseason.