Notes after the non-waiver trade deadline

The Cleveland Indians acquired a game-changing lefty, Andrew Miller, for their bullpen and an outfielder with a dependable bat, Brandon Guyer. The Texas Rangers picked up Jeremy Jeffress, Carlos Beltran and Jonathan Lucroy.

So as the non-waiver trade deadline rumors end and the dust settles, the Rangers and Indians are the most improved teams in baseball.

A couple of months after the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Golden State Warriors to win the NBA championship, the Indians are set to make a run to the World Series for the first time since 1997.

Miller, who helped the Orioles make the postseason in 2014 after a July trade from Boston, adds power to the back of the Indians bullpen. He and closer Cody Allen will share the eighth and ninth innings, depending on matchups. Neither is worried about being the full-time closer.

Cleveland already has the best rotation in the league, although there are concerns about Danny Salazar's elbow. They have a manager, Terry Francona, who has won two World Series in Boston, helping the Red Sox beat the Curse of the Bambino in 2004.

Their only issue is at catcher. Yan Gomes is out with a dislocated shoulder. They tried to get Milwaukee's Lucroy, but he rejected a trade, allowed by his contract. The Indians aren't sure what they are going to get from Gomes or outfielder Michael Brantley, their best hitter from a year ago who has been on the disabled list all season.

Still, the Indians lineup is getting the job done, and players such as Tyler Naquin, Mike Napoli and Jose Ramirez are performing better than expected.

But, it's the Indians rotation - Corey Kluber, Salazar, Carlos Carrasco, Josh Tomlin and Trevor Bauer - that makes them dangerous. Salazar has had a precautionary MRI on his elbow. He was hit hard by Minnesota on Monday night.

The Rangers, leaders in the American League West, needed rotation help. They didn't get a starter, but they added Jeffress of Milwaukee to the bullpen, and he'll work in a set-up role to Sam Dyson. Beltran, having a resurging season at 39, was acquired from the Yankees to be the designated hitter in the absence of Prince Fielder, who is out for the season with a neck injury.

Beltran will try to do for the Rangers what he did for the other Texas team in Houston in 2004 when a midseason trade took him from Kansas City to Houston. He hit 23 home runs in 90 games and helped the Astros get to the National League Championship Series. The Astros lost to the Cardinals.

Lucroy is the Rangers' new catcher, and that's a big improvement defensively and offensively.

But the difference between the two teams is the rotations.

The Indians have a better rotation. The Rangers have two starters - Derek Holland and Colby Lewis - on the disabled list for the rest of the season. Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish, coming back from Tommy John, lead the rotation, but Martin Perez, A.J. Griffin and Lucas Harrell aren't enough at the back.

Here's a look at the changed baseball landscape for the final two months of the season:

* The Blue Jays, competing with the Orioles in the AL East, added three starters in Francisco Liriano (Pirates), Scott Feldman (Astros) and Mike Bolsinger (Dodgers). That allows them to move their best pitcher, Aaron Sanchez, who leads the league with a 2.71 ERA, to the bullpen to save innings on his arm. Liriano is having a down year with five walks per nine innings and an ERA of 5.46, but the Blue Jays think that reuniting with Russell Martin, his former catcher with the Pirates, will make a difference.

* Last year, the Mets acquired Yoenis Cespedes at the deadline and wound up winning the NL East, thanks to his power and run production. Now, the Mets hope that getting outfielder Jay Bruce from the Reds will produce the same result. Bruce, a left-handed batter, leads the NL with 80 RBIs, making him the first player in history to lead the league in RBI and get traded midseason. Bruce will play right field, moving Curtis Granderson to center. Cespedes will play left. Bruce is hitting .360 with runners in scoring position, a stat that has been troublesome for the Mets. The Mets rank 13th in the NL in runs scored (531). Bruce, who has a $13 million team option for next season, gives the Mets insurance in case Cespedes opts out of his contract this winter. The downside is that with Bruce, Granderson and Michael Conforto for next season, the Mets have plenty of corner outfielders, but no legitimate center fielder.

* The Nationals, with their beleaguered bullpen, were trying to get help from New York before the Yankees before traded Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs and Andrew Miller to Cleveland. But the leaders in the NL East wound up with Pittsburgh's Mark Melancon, who had 130 saves and a 1.80 ERA in 3 1/2 seasons for the Pirates, at a reduced price, trading Felipe Rivero and a mid-level prospect. How did the Nationals' Mike Rizzo pull that off when the market was sky-high for relief pitchers? It seems the Pirates could have held on for more because other contending teams - the Rangers, Giants and Blue Jays - were looking for bullpen help, but they felt they were dealing from strength. Rivero will pitch the seventh inning, Neftali Feliz the eighth with Tony Watson replacing Melancon as the closer.

* The Nationals could use another bat, but if they made a trade, who would come out of the lineup? The only thing that could be done is to find a right fielder, move Bryce Harper to center and let Trea Turner, a recent catalyst at the top of the order, sit. That doesn't work. Perhaps former Orioles pitcher Dave Johnson, my colleague on the Mid-Atlantic Sports Report, had the best idea: The Nationals should have traded for Tampa Bay's Steve Pearce. He's got a strong power bat and can play first, second and two outfield positions. With Pearce, who ended up going to Baltimore, the Nationals could have improved the pop in their lineup without having to sit a regular.

* The Red Sox, who are challenging the Orioles in the AL East, haven't been shy about acquiring new players. After getting third baseman Aaron Hill and pitchers Drew Pomeranz and Brad Ziegler, the Red Sox acquired lefty Fernando Abad from the Twins for a minor league pitching prospect. Abad, 30, has a 2.65 ERA, but he's not pitching well lately. He was unhittable in April and May, but he's been getting hit in June and July. Closer Craig Kimbrel is set to come off the disabled list after knee surgery. The bullpen also has Ziegler, Junichi Tazawa, Clay Buchholz, Robbie Ross Jr. and Tommy Layne. The key, though, for the Red Sox is an improved rotation, namely Eduardo Rodriguez, the Red Sox's best pitcher last season, and David Price, the $217 million pitcher. Price has location issues. Rodriguez has struggled to come back after starting the season on the disabled list with a knee injury.

* The Cubs acquired lefty closer Aroldis Chapman from the Yankees in a move that will have implications for the Nationals in October. If the two teams meet in the postseason, the Nationals' lefty batters Daniel Murphy and Bryce Harper are going to have to solve Chapman in late-inning situations to win in October. The Cubs have three closers in their bullpen, including Hector Rondon and Pedro Strop. The Cubs, though, have to get there first. They have a solid lead in the NL Central, but they were 12-14 in July with a team average of .248 and a 4.47 ERA for the pitching staff.

* The Orioles picked up lefty Wade Miley, and even though he's had bouts with inconsistent pitching, it was a good deal for the Orioles for a lot of reasons. In 2012, Miley was 16-11 with a 3.33 ERA and finished second to the Nationals' Bryce Harper in the NL Rookie of the Year voting. In four of his five seasons in Arizona, Miley has thrown at least 193 1/3 innings, and he's topped 200 innings twice. He was a 2012 All-Star, and throws a low-90s fastball with a slider, changeup and curve. Miley had shoulder and mechanical issues for Seattle in May, and he's had command issues, but the good news for the Orioles: He's had quality starts in four of his last five. But considering the Orioles didn't have a lot to trade, they made out fine.

* The Marlins, in the NL wild card race and second to the Nationals in the NL East, had good and bad news with their two new starters. Andrew Cashner, a slider-fastball pitcher, was strong in his first start, but Colin Rea, who pitched well in his first appearance, ended up on the disabled list with a sprained elbow and was shipped back to San Diego. It is difficult to see how the Marlins will challenge. Jose Fernandez is coming back from Tommy John and is on an innings limit. Former Oriole Wei-Yin Chen is on the disabled list, and the Marlins aren't sure when he'll return. And Tom Koehler is dealing with a pectoral issue that could sideline him as well.

* The Yankees started the rebuilding process trading three major players in Chapman, Miller and Beltran. Now, they should release Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira. Teixeira's contract runs out after this season, so that should be an easy move. A-Rod is set to make $21 million next season, so that might be more difficult. But the sooner they get rid of the two, the better off the Yankees will be.

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