Phil Rogers unveils what to look for in 2nd half

2. Ryan Braun: No one has more credibility to lose in the Biogenesis investigation than the Brewers' cornerstone player, who would be having a miserable season even without the PED cloud continuing to hang over his head.

3. Don Mattingly/Mike Scioscia (tie): The two Los Angeles managers can't say they weren't dealt hands they should win with. Both could be gone without playoff appearances.

4. Rob Manfred and Dan Halem: MLB's top lawyers were livid when Braun wriggled off the hook after a positive test for a banned substance in 2011. They need to secure suspensions from the aggressive prosecution of players tied to the tainted Miami clinic Anthony Bosch ran.

5. Yu Darvish: It's time to find out if the Japanese import is a big-game pitcher or just a show pony. He had a 4.26 second-half ERA last year when the Rangers couldn't hold off the Athletics.

Five most intriguing prospects

1. Byron Buxton, Twins: The 19-year-old second overall pick in last year's draft has hit .305 with an .896 OPS in 132 games as a pro. Will he get to the Twins as quickly as Joe Mauer, who played only 284 games as a minor-leaguer?

2. Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, free agent: The 26-year-old Cuban hasn't signed yet but could find himself working big innings for the Dodgers, assuming that the Cubs or someone else doesn't outbid them.

3. Josh Phegley, White Sox: If the White Sox are going to avoid a total rebuild, they need some pleasant surprises from within their farm system. Phegley created a lot of excitement with three homers in his first 18 at-bats, including a grand slam, and suddenly looks like a great addition for a franchise that is about to lose Paul Konerko.

4. Michael Wacha, Cardinals: There are lots of arms in the wings if the Cardinals need them.

5. Micah Johnson, White Sox: The second baseman from Indiana University has a .415 on-base percentage and 65 steals in Class A this year, 13 more stolen bases than celebrated thief Billy Hamilton.

Five (theoretical) game-changing trades:

1. Addison Reed, Jesse Crain, Matt Lindstrom, Adam Dunn and cash to the Tigers for Victor Martinez, Nick Castellanos and Bruce Rondon: General manager Rick Hahn is willing to trade within his division, and this is the one blockbuster that could fix the Tigers' fatal flaw. The White Sox add a potential fixture (Castellanos) and an unproven power arm (Rondon) while changing their look with Martinez in Dunn's slot next year.

2. Giancarlo Stanton and Steve Cishek to the Rangers for Jurickson Profar, Martin Perez and power freak Joey Gallo (26 homers, 135 strikeouts in 83 games in low A): The Marlins say they're hanging on to Stanton but why? This is an offer they couldn't ignore.

3. Hunter Pence to the Nationals for outfielder Brian Goodwin: He was a godsend for the Giants a year ago and could have that same impact for Washington's stuck-in-the-mud lineup.

4. Matt Garza, Kevin Gregg and cash to the Indians for Zach McAllister and Danny Salazar: Before an injured finger sidelined him, the 25-year-old McAllister was turning a corner.

5. Jake Peavy and Lindstrom or Crain to the Diamondbacks for outfielders Jason Kubel and Adam Eaton: If the White Sox are changing their whole team, why not?

Five most interesting series

1. Pirates at Reds, July 19-21 and Sept. 27-29: The Pirates begin and end the second half at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. If they're going to blink, these are times when it could happen.

2. Red Sox at Rockies, Sept. 24-25: Year-round interleague play means AL teams could be playing without their designated hitters in huge late-season games, and this two-game series the last week of the season is probably the best example. It's hard to imagine anything will be on the line when the Tigers visit the Marlins the final weekend.

3. Yankees at Red Sox, Sept. 13-15: Mariano Rivera has saved 56 regular-season games against the Red Sox. His last visit to Boston should be special, with seats adjacent to the visiting bullpen in heavy demand.

4. Dodgers at Nationals, July 19-21: With the All-Star Game scheduled later than normal this season, it's more important than ever to get off to a good start in the second half. As is true with Pirates-Reds, a sweep in this back-to-work series would be huge.

5. Marlins at Cubs, Sept. 2-4: The fate of North Carolina State lefty Carlos Rodon, an instant ace, or California high school shortstop Jacob Gatewood could be determined by how baseball's bottom-tier teams do in head-to-head matchups like this one. Because draft order is determined by reverse standings, the loser wins.

Twitter @ChiTribRogers

verse standings, the loser wins.

Twitter @ChiTribRogers