Zack Greinke, providing the Orioles can pry him away from the Brewers in a trade. They need him more than anyone else to finally get back to the playoffs in baseball's toughest division.
Greinke (9-3, 3.32 ERA, 111 innings) plugged into the top of a starting rotation that's extremely shaky after Jason Hammel and Wei-Yin Chen could change the whole dynamic for a team built in the classic Earl Weaver mode. You know — for three-run homers and not a whole lot of fancy base stealing to rule the day, but no Terry Crowley to break one open in the (freaking) ninth.
Seriously, Greinke can and almost certainly would be what the O's need to stay in the wild-card chase.
Kemp ... if healthy
Los Angeles Times
Matt Kemp hit his last home run April 30. He still leads the Dodgers in home runs.
Kemp hit 12 home runs in April. The Dodgers hit six home runs in June.
It is no secret that the Dodgers need offensive help. They had a trade in place for Carlos Lee, only to see Lee invoke his no-trade rights and instead wind up with the Marlins. But Lee would be like any other hitter likely to end up with the Dodgers — that is, a complementary piece.
There is no one available that can make the difference that a healthy Kemp can. The Dodgers plan to activate him from the disabled list Friday. If he remains healthy and productive, he could be the difference between the Dodgers staying in contention or falling out of it.
Trout brings energy
Mike Trout isn't a fluke. The guy is as good as advertised, and his 20-year-old energy will prove invaluable for the Angels in August and September.
With Trout and Mike Trumbo adding to the lineup built around Albert Pujols, the Angels can trade blows with the powerful Rangers. They are going to be in a terrific battle to win the AL West, and neither team will want to wind up as the wild card, playing in baseball's first one-game wild-card round of the playoffs.
The Angels have some pitching issues, but their lineup is a blast to watch, and Trout's combination of speed and power — and overall athleticism — is a bigger reason why than the $240 million man, Pujols.
Greinke, if he goes
With the addition of the second wild card, all but nine teams come out of the All-Star break within five games of a spot in the postseason.
Any one of them could improve its chances dramatically by adding Brewers ace Zack Greinke.
The Orioles and Braves are among the teams rumored to have a strong interest in the 28-year-old right-hander. He could bolster the Orioles' chances of returning to the playoffs for the first time since 1997 or make the Braves a top contender to win the National League.
Grienke and the Phillies' Cole Hamels — both free agents after the season — are the two biggest game-changers who could be dealt. And of the two, Greinke seems less likely to wind up staying with his current team beyond the season.