As we get closer to the halfway mark in the 2019 MLB season, it’s getting to be that time where contenders start shoring themselves up for a postseason run.
We’re getting closer to the insanity that is the trade deadline; sooner rather than later teams will start showing interest in back-end relievers & corner outfield bats that could help their team against a certain platoon split that is currently decimating them.
However, making a key trade isn’t the only way that contenders can bolster themselves before the stretch one. Down on the farm, most of the contenders have at least a couple guys with potential to help drive their team to October, or at least help out a ton.
Lest we forget power arms like David Price or Brandon Finnegan buoying playoff runs, or a guy like Andrew Benintendi helping the Red Sox win the AL East in 2016. Here are a few guys who could be called up soon (or should be called up already) that’ll help teams jockeying for a postseason spot.
All stats as of 6/14/19, via Baseball Reference
Keston Hiura – Milwaukee Brewers, 2B
I’ll start with Hiura because it’s criminal that he’s sitting in AAA San Antonio right now. Hiura has already gotten the call this year, coming up for a 17 game stretch while Travis Shaw was injured.
To be fair, Hiura reallyyyyyy struggled during his time in the bigs. Oh wait, nevermind, he slashed .281/.333/.531 and hit 5 home runs. Sure, he struck out a little bit, but if your goal is to win a division championship, as the Brewers seem to be trying to do, then there’s no way Hirua should be down for anything other than financial reasons. If you wanna win, put Hiura in.
Brendan McKay – Tampa Bay, LHP
Brendan, put away the bat and step away from the mound. McKay entered the 2017 draft as a candidate to be a top-five pick either as a hitter or LHP. The Rays grabbed him 4th and the past 2+ years have let him dabble in both.
However, McKay is now very ready to contribute to a surprising Rays club on the mound, but not so much with the stick. In 11 games (10 starts) between AA & AAA, McKay has a miniscule 1.43 ERA and a 6.91 K/BB ratio. He could step into the Rays’ rotation or bullpen and help get them to October.
Offensively though, McKay’s bat is severely behind his arm, as it has been for much of his professional career (doing two things is hard, guys). He’s only slashing .182/.292/.291 over both levels. If a first basemen with that line had been promoted mid-season under normal circumstances you’d assume the team was out of its mind. McKay may still have a future doing both in the big leagues, if only being an occasional DH, but for a team that has a chance to win, it’s time to make him a pitcher-only, at least for 2019.
Bobby Bradley – Cleveland Indians, 1B
Calling the Indians contenders right now might be a bit generous. The Twins have a double-digit lead in the AL Central, and Cleveland’s hopes get more pessimistic by the day.
But, with Mike Clevinger almost back, there’s a bit of hope on the horizon. The Indians can still pitch a little bit. That being said, you need to score to win, and the Indians are in the bottom-10 in baseball in runs per game.
There’s no question that Bradley can hit for power, currently slashing .277/.340/.584 with 18 HRs. It’s really where would he play, as Carlos Santana has been the Indians best hitter for the majority of the season. The Indians have tried some plug-in options at DH; CarGo didn’t work, Hanley didn’t work, so maybe it’s time to try Bobby. Bradley is never going to make a lot of contact, but for a team that could use some quick offense, he’s worth a shot.
By Kyle Bandujo