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Using the Remaining Schedule as a Trade Guide

With just over two months left in the regular season, every tiny edge can be that difference between the memorable title and a forgettable second-place finish. Sure, a second-place finish can be a financial boon, but it's all about that title. The schedule can be a source of said edges as you can use it to guide some of your moves, via either free agency or trade. Let's start at the top with pure volume.

Total Games Left

The Detroit Tigers are a full five games behind of some of their division mates thanks to a rash of unplanned off days due to weather combined with multiple scheduled off days early on. Their 63 games remaining are the most in baseball, just ahead of the Cubs and Nationals at 62 apiece. The White Sox, Dodgers, and Brewers all have 58 games remaining. It might seem trivial, but if you need to attack your counting stats, then you should be looking at these teams with more games remaining.

Dealing your Dodgers and Brewers studs in deals that bring back Tigers and Nationals studs could bring a nice little edge. The Orioles, Angels, Marlins, Yankees, A's, and Padres are all a tick above the 60 game league average with 61 remaining. Of course, I'm not sure you need to seek out Padres in any deals where you're trying to improve your offense, regardless of their games left advantage. Arizona, Toronto, Tampa Bay, and Cleveland (59) join the other three clubs as the only seven teams with fewer than 60 games left.

Homebodies

Short of Petco Park and maybe a couple others, hitters hit better at home. They don't even have to play in an overly hitter-friendly park, they will still hit better at home more often than not. In fact, league OPS is .719 at home and .694 on the road. The league has an average of 31 games left at home. The Cubs lead the charge by a wide margin with 37 games left in Wrigley.

It's a neutral ballpark overall and the Cubs offense isn't very good so this isn't a suggestion to start hoarding Cubs, but someone like Anthony Rizzo gets a boost from me on his already rising stock if I'm looking to acquire a big bat in the trade market. The Cubs play 11 more home games than road and while Rizzo isn't exactly bad on the road (.879 OPS), he's been excellent at home with a .988 OPS.

Seven other teams have at least 33 home games left: Kansas City (34), NY Yankees, Cincinnati, NY Mets, Cleveland, Houston, and Texas (33). The Royals and Mets have pitcher-friendly ballparks so I might lean toward acquiring their starters as opposed to their hitters. The entire Mets rotation outside of Zack Wheeler has found more success at home while the Royals staff has been better on the road, but I still prefer them in a park that stifles home runs like Kauffman does.

The Yankees, Reds, Astros, and Rangers all play in hitter-friendly parks with those 33 home games, opening plenty of options to possibly target for that extra bit of home cooking. Brett Gardner (.915 home OPS/.669 road OPS) and Jacoby Ellsbury (.849/.710) for the Yankees give you a pair of stolen base guys to target if that's your big need. Todd Frazier (.941/.738) has hit 15 of his 20 homers at the Great American Ballpark. Brandon Phillips likely won't have the impact of the other three guys we've look at so far, but his .781 OPS at home is markedly better than his .627 road total. I'm not sure I'm targeting him anywhere, but I figured I'd mention the split.

Dexter Fowler (.858/.695) loves his new digs, but he's always had a sharp home/road split. He's currently on the DL which could mitigate any advantage of those extra home games, so let his estimated return be a guide if you do decide to target him with an eye on this home field advantage. Jose Altuve is the only other Astro regular toting a home OPS north of .800. He's at .858 which isn't too far from his .823 road mark. Further north in Texas, Adrian Beltre (1.022/.777) is someone who could see a boost in his second-half production with six extra home games. Leonys Martin (.793/.636) has a much better home split, but it's only because he's so bad on the road. There are mixed league scenarios where you can reasonably platoon him into your lineup for homestands and back to the bench when they leave Arlington.

The Pirates only have 26 home games left, the fewest in the league. While they do play in a pitcher-friendly ballpark, Andrew McCutchen (161-point advantage at home in OPS), Russell Martin (156), and Ike Davis (210) are much better at PNC Park. Cutch is still great on the road at .887, while Martin is OK (.715) and Davis is terrible (.579). The Blue Jays and Diamondbacks have 28 and 27 games left at home, respectively. Both play in hitter friendly environments so this dings the value of their batters a bit the rest of the way.

Road Warriors

With the fewest home games, you'd expect the Pirates to have the most road games and you'd be right (with 35). This could impact their starters as their rotation's ERA goes from 3.63 at home to 4.15 on the road with Charlie Morton taking the biggest hit as his ERA jumps a full two runs on the road from 2.18 to 4.19 this year. The time to sell may be now, especially if he can get through his outing in Coors Field on Friday night. He has the skillset for it with his heavy groundball rate and solid strikeout rate.

The average number of road games left is 30. Five other teams join the Pirates with at least 33 left away from their home stadium: Tigers, Angels (34), Padres, Mariners, and D'Backs (33). The Tigers have baseball's best record on the road at 30-17 so I wouldn't necessarily worry about their time away from Motown. Their .762 road OPS is behind only the Angels at .774 (so don't worry about their upcoming road tripping, either).

The Padres having so many road games helps their offense, but hurts their pitchers. Unfortunately, they don't really have any hitters to invest in so that edge of getting out of Petco isn't terribly useful. Meanwhile, losing Petco chances from their pitchers really sucks some value from them, especially those outside of the Tyson Ross/Ian Kennedy division (though the latter may be dealt by next week anyway). San Diego's rotation has a 2.86 ERA at home, but it's up to 4.20 on the road. The Mariners play in a pitcher's park, but they don't have the same issue of inflating their starters as their 3.49 home ERA is actually a tick above their 3.42 mark on the road.

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Taking advantage of small scheduling edges is unlikely to drastically sway your team's outcome one way or the other, but if there is a gain to be had, it should be looked into as an option. Getting J.D. Martinez for Khris Davis probably won't clinch your title, but acquiring Ian Kinsler, Anthony Rizzo, and Bryce Harper while dealing off Yasiel Puig, Alexei Ramirez, and Jonathan LuCroy (I'm just picking names, not matching perfect values… plus, something like this would likely take multiple deals) could net you about 15 games of playing time.