Look no further than tonight’s opponent if you’re unsure about whether Julio Teheran should be traded. The Indians, baseball’s hottest team, have played all but 11 games without their best hitter, Michael Brantley. Despite that, and a payroll that’s only $2.5 million higher than the Bravos, Cleveland is poised to return to the playoffs this year almost solely on the backs of their starting pitchers. They may not have a Kershaw or Arrieta but they have several Teherans, if not better, in the case of Danny Salazar. Kluber and Carrasco could also make a strong case, as they, along with Trevor Bauer, miss a lot of bats.
Point being, you don’t trade affordable, accomplished arms. Cleveland has managed to patch together a decent offense — built around budding star Francisco Lindor — thanks to contributions from the likes of Mike Napoli, Rajai Davis and our old pal Juan Uribe. They all came cheap. Top-flight starting pitchers do not.
Cleveland has also maintained enough flexibility to add a Carlos Beltran-type at the deadline. If they do that, and get Brantley back, you may well be looking at the team to beat in the AL (as predicted by Rowland). None of other contenders in the Senior Circuit have Cleveland’s rotation depth, or talent. It’s not even close.
(I trust if your’re reading this you know the line-up by now so I’ll save you that and lyrics to a random 35-year-old tune.)