MLB Trade Deadline: Top 5 Starting Pitchers Available

Kris Lokos@koko4lokopuffsCorrespondent IJuly 3, 2012

MLB Trade Deadline: Top 5 Starting Pitchers Available

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    With the MLB trade deadline fast approaching, it is starting to become more and more evident which teams are buyers and which are sellers. Several teams have already made some big-name trades, and more are sure to come.

    There are several quality players on the trade market; it all depends on what teams are willing to spend to get them. As usual, starting pitching is the top concern on a lot of teams' list of priorities. The majority of teams' starting pitching can always get better, and good starting pitching will keep you in games down the stretch.

    There is no shortage of quality starting pitching available, and it looks like several guys will be on the move. Here are the top-five pitchers available, based on their play and their team's willingness to part with them.

No. 5 Cole Hamels

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    Cole Hamels has been having a fantastic year for the Phillies, who are much worse than most people expected them to be this year. The All-Star has a 10-4 record with a 3.08 ERA. He has a 1.10 WHIP and 111 strikeouts as well.

    The reason Hamels is only No. 5 on this list is because of his limited availability. The Phillies, due to their success the last few years, are hesitant to admit that they are out of the playoff race. They are eight games out of the last wild-card spot, are just getting Chase Utley back and are hoping to stay close until Ryan Howard gets back.

    They also still want to keep Hamels for the future, and I can't blame them. He has done well for Philly time and time again over his career. For those reasons, the Phillies have put a super high price on him.

    With that being said, there is sure to be a team desperate enough for pitching that is going to try to meet that high price. Whether or not the Phillies are actually willing to let him go will be something to watch for. With his postseason experience and great play so far, Hamels is sure to get a lot of looks.

No. 4 Brandon McCarthy

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    Brandon McCarthy was considered to be a huge bust for a long time, but the A's pitcher has finally come into his own this year. He has a 6-3 record, a 2.54 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP. When he has been on the mound, he has been stellar.

    McCarthy's problem this year has been staying healthy. He has pitched just 78 innings and been dealing with shoulder issues.

    Another knock against his trade value is that the A's don't really need to trade him. They can afford to keep him if they wish, but have said that they are willing to part with him. What that means is that Oakland is going to be picky to make sure they get the deal they want if they let him go.

    Still, when he has been on the mound, McCarthy has been one of the better pitchers in the American League. If general managers are willing to overlook his past, his shoulder and the stiff price, then they will snatch him up really quick. And with so many teams still in contention, someone is sure to get him.

No. 3 Zack Greinke

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    Zack Greinke is back to being his old self. He is 9-2 with a 3.08 ERA. He has a 1.18 WHIP and 106 strikeouts in 108 innings. Many people consider him to be the prized arm available this year.

    Part of his value is that Greinke is still young and has Cy Young stuff. He would definitely be a big help to the right team.

    The Brewers are six games out of the last wild-card spot, but with their division being as tough as it is, they are going to be willing to give up Greinke for some solid value in return.

    Look for the big-name teams to try to take a shot at Greinke. I've got my money on him going to the AL East, but there are three teams still in contention there, so it could become a bidding war.

    It will be nice to see Greinke on a winning team and getting some TV time. Look for continued success in the second half, for someone else.

No. 2 Matt Garza

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    Matt Garza isn't having the best of years, with a record of 4-6 and a 4.01 ERA. He still has a 1.16 WHIP and 80 strikeouts, and people who remember his Tampa Bay days know that he has plenty of talent to get the job done.

    Teams know that Theo Epstein and the Cubs are going to be the biggest sellers before the trade deadline. They also know that because of Garza's down year, they can get him for a slightly lower price than they otherwise would have.

    Garza is still young, and teams know he has good stuff and loads of potential. Look for Garza to move quickly.

No. 1 Ryan Dempster

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    It is really a shame that Ryan Dempster has just a 3-3 record, considering how well he has been pitching. Dempster has an amazing 2.11 ERA and a 1.03 WHIP this year. He has done everything he can to win games, but just hasn't gotten any help from his team's offense.

    With that being said, teams recognize that his record isn't his fault and that he deserves much better. They know that Dempster's experience will be a big help to their roster for the playoff push.

    Theo Epstein has made it clear that the Cubs are going to be sellers, and Dempster is his biggest piece of bait. Dempster is a little older than the others on this list, but that shouldn't keep teams from trying to acquire him.

    Look for Dempster to be one of the first to go here in July.