If you thought the overblown Robinson Cano-Home Run Derby drama signified a slow news cycle in baseball, check out the story about Tigers fans worrying that Justin Verlander will be ruined because he's dating model Kate Upton. People actually spend time on this stuff when there are no games. Friday can't get here soon enough.
Baseball's second half will resume tomorrow with our streaming starter record at 56-39. Friday's pick is Minnesota's Francisco Liriano against the A's. Liriano is owned in just 26.7 percent of FOXSports.com leagues, and has a 2.76 ERA, a 1.10 WHIP and 52 strikeouts in 49 innings over eight starts since returning to the Twins' rotation in late May.
On to the news:
- Red Sox OF Jacoby Ellsbury, who has been out since April 13 due to a shoulder injury, is expected to be activated in time for Friday's series opener against the Rays. Start Ellsbury if you have him.
- In other Red Sox news, Clay Buchholz is listed as Saturday's probable starter, and OF Carl Crawford will resume his minor-league rehab assignment tonight. If all goes well for Crawford, he could be activated next week.
- Phillies SP Roy Halladay will make a minor-league rehab start tonight, and could be reactivated as soon as Tuesday.
- After apparently trying to hit a bunch of singles in Monday's Home Run Derby, Dodgers OF Matt Kemp will be back in the lineup on Friday after a six-week absence. He might be joined by teammate Andre Ethier (oblique).
- Mets SP Dillon Gee will reportedly have surgery on Friday to repair a damaged artery in his shoulder, and is likely to miss the rest of the season. There have been rumors about the Mets calling up prospect Matt Harvey (3.39 ERA at Triple A) to replace Gee, but no move has been made yet.
- Many young starters try to add pitches to their repertoires, but Yankees SP Phil Hughes has improved lately by removing one.
- After making two starts in Double A, veteran Ben Sheets might join the Braves' rotation on Sunday. There were a few questions about Sheets in Tuesday's chat, and while I've always been a fan, he hasn't been an effective major league pitcher since 2008. Take a flier on Sheets if you want, but don't expect much.
- Orioles 2B Brian Roberts might have surgery on his injured hip that would result in a two-month rehab. Let's agree to forget about Roberts until next spring, OK?
- The Marlins will use a committee approach to close games for the time being, with Steve Cishek (owned in 3.1 percent of FOXSports.com leagues) and Juan Carlos Oviedo (formerly Leo Nunez, 0.5 percent owned) likely to share opportunities with Heath Bell. The debate about Bell's weight isn't good for Wii Fit, which he used a couple of years ago to lose 25 pounds during the offseason. I knew that thing was too soft for a pro athlete.
- This Giants' midseason review notes that OF Gregor Blanco's production has fallen off a cliff lately. That'll happen when you're a 28-year-old journeyman without a ton of talent.
- Here's an interesting post from Federal Baseball about Stephen Strasburg's looming innings limit, which will dominate baseball discussion in a month or so. It'll be a tough call if the Nats are still in contention, but I'd agree with a shutdown.
- With a short week ahead, there are many pitchers who don't need to be activated in weekly leagues. CC Sabathia and Jon Lester are the two biggest names that won't start until next week, but check the probable starters for the weekend before setting your lineups.
See you back here tomorrow morning.