A fascinating second half awaits


The first half of the baseball season was terrific, filled with history, home runs, strikeouts, drama, joy and sadness. And the second half promises to be even better.

Here are 10 storylines.

September (or before) call-ups

A number of top prospects, including Pirates outfielder Gregory Polanco, have been recalled, but on the way are even more kids, some of whom might help a contender down the stretch.

The Dodgers don't have a true center fielder; maybe they will bring up Joc Pederson -- a true center fielder -- to see if he can add something in the pennant race. A scout who saw the Orioles' Dylan Bundy recently clocked him at 92-94 mph with good command -- maybe he could throw a few important innings in September. The Pirates could take a look at right-hander Nick Kingham in hopes that he could do something resembling what Gerrit Cole brought to the pennant race last year.

Other call-ups could include four right-handers: the Mets' Noah Syndergaard, Archie Bradley (if healthy) of the Diamondbacks, the Twins' Alex Meyer and Mike Foltynewicz of the Astros.

Jon Lester

A source close to Boston's star left-handed pitcher opened a very real possibility that Lester, a free agent after this season, will be playing elsewhere next season. And yet it seems hard to believe that the Red Sox, with all their money and resources, are going to part ways with their best pitcher by far -- a guy who has won two World Series, has been a postseason hero and has at times this season thrown the ball better than ever.

The Red Sox are going to have to come way up from their four-year, $70 million offer of a couple months ago to get him signed, but they don't have much choice given the way this season has gone, and given the rest of their rotation has no ace beyond Lester.

The Red Sox don't want to get where the Tigers are: rejected by Max Scherzer in March and likely having to compete with others to sign him.

Derek Jeter's final game

Unless the Yankees somehow make the playoffs despite all their injuries, Jeter's final home game will be Sept. 25 against the Orioles, and his final game will be Sept. 28 in Boston.

No matter when and where, it will be a grand goodbye for, unofficially, the third-best shortstop of all time, the sixth-best Yankee ever and the face of the game over the past 10 years. Jeter seemingly has enjoyed his final season; he has appeared at ease with his decision to retire and with the adulation he has received from opposing teams and fans across the country. And yet, even he might not be able to hold it together during that final day at Yankee Stadium, and then again at Fenway Park. It will be powerful.

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