The Major Leagues haves and have-not's are separating; who wants to rent-an-arm to contend for the playoffs? The trading deadline ends July 31. If the season were to end today, only two playoff questions would remain. These involve the American League East and National League wild card. This promises to be intriguing because four possible contenders need to improve pitching but only two decent pitchers are available.

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Buyers .

The Orioles lead the American League East at 49-35. It is a tight race with Toronto 2 games and the Bosox 3 games behind. The Blue Jays have the best pitching staff of the trio (3.82 ERA). Sluggers have kept Baltimore and Boston in the race, but ERAs of 4.39 in Birdland and 4.92 are not what champions are made. The Indians (51-34) and Rangers (53-34) are comfortably in front of the central and west.

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First place is safe in the National League with Washington (51-35) in charge of the East, at least this week, Chicago (52-32) central and San Francisco (54-33). The wild card race is interesting. The 47-38 Mets are half-a-game ahead of the Dodgers (48-40) in the wild card race. New York beat the Nats 9-7 in the opener of a four-game home stand July 7. Next comes the Marlins, Pirates and Cardinals all within five games of Los Angeles and all with team ERAs of near or more than 4.00.

Sellers.

Philly Jeremy Hellickson is an inning eater in 2016. He has lasted six frames or more in 10 of 11 starts since May 13. In spite of being bombed four times this season, Hellickson’s ERA is 3.42. He might be the classic back of the rotation rent-a-pitcher. Oakland’s Rich Hill, fresh off the DL list, could be an intriguing choice. He is only owed $3 million for the rest of the season He can give a team at least six innings a night, keep the ball in the park and keep runners off base. Hill is a second or third starter on most pitching staffs.

Other guys.

 Technically there are four starters rumored to be available, but only three are rentals – players who are free agents at the end of the season. Hector Santiago puts 1.33 runners on base per inning and has given up a home run per start. He has a 4.93 ERA. The Angel hurler was an All Star in 2015. If a team could pitch Jake Odorizzi during the day and against left-handed batters he’d be golden.

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His numbers this year are awful, six quality starts in 18 tries,16 home runs and a 4.93 ERA. On the other hand, he is young, has a strong history, loads of potential and is under contract through 2019. Any team except the Orioles, who seem to know nothing about handling hurlers, could use him.

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