What we're watching: Beckett aims for 15th victory

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– Josh Beckett can become the first major leaguer to 15 wins this year by beating Toronto and Ricky Romero tonight. He’s gone at least seven innings in six straight starts, allowing nine runs in the process. His ERA, which stood at 7.22 at the end of April, is now 3.10, the sixth-best mark in the AL, and he ranks third in WHIP and fifth in strikeouts. This will be his first start against the Jays in 2009. He went 0-2 with a 16.71 ERA in his two starts against the club last year.
– Pedro Martinez got a ton of support to beat the Cubs last week in his return to the majors. His second start will come against the Diamondbacks, a team he’s dominated in five career starts (3-1, 1.36 ERA). The opponent is also worth watching. Jon Garland, who still might find himself on a contender later this month, has gone at least six innings in 14 straight starts and allowed no more than three earned runs in eight of the last nine.
– Freddy Garcia will make his first major league start this year against the surging Royals, winners of three of their last seven games. Garcia, who has been robbed of velocity by shoulder problems, had a 1.80 ERA and a 19/1 K/BB ratio in 20 innings in the minors for the White Sox. In his lone Triple-A start, he gave up eight hits, walked none and struck out nine in six innings. If his command remains so strong in the majors, perhaps he’ll be able to hold his own for the White Sox. Little more can be expected.
Game of the Night
Seattle vs. Detroit – 23-year-old Felix Hernandez and 20-year-old Rick Porcello will duel for the first time tonight. King Felix, coming off his second 10-strikeout game of the year and first against an AL team since April 27, 2008, will be trying to improve to 13-4. He’s beaten Detroit twice this year to improve to 5-2 with a 2.91 ERA lifetime against the club. Porcello pitched just one-plus innings in his last start after Kevin Youkilis made his own contribution towards keeping the youngster’s workload in check. Two of his 10 wins this year have come against the Mariners.

Stephen Strasburg unlikely to pitch in the NLDS

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 07:  Stephen Strasburg #37 of the Washington Nationals walks off the field after an injury in the third inning against the Atlanta Braves at Nationals Park on September 7, 2016 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
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Nationals GM Mike Rizzo said on Tuesday that starter Stephen Strasburg is unlikely to pitch in the NLDS against the Dodgers, Chase Hughes of CSN Mid-Atlantic reports. Strasburg hasn’t pitched since September 7 due to a strained flexor mass.

Strasburg was pitching well before a few poor starts prior to being shut down in August. He currently holds a 3.60 ERA with a 183/44 K/BB ratio in 147 2/3 innings.

The Nationals signed Strasburg to a seven-year, $175 million contract extension in May. This was obviously not how they invisioned his 2016 campaign going.

A.J. Cole fined, suspended five games for throwing at Jung Ho Kang

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 25:  Home plate umpire Jordan Baker ejects A.J. Cole #22 of the Washington Nationals in the third inning during the game at PNC Park on September 25, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
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Nationals starter A.J. Cole has been fined an undisclosed amount and suspended five games by Major League Baseball for intentionally throwing at Pirates third baseman Jung Ho Kang on Sunday, Chelsea Janes of The Washington Post reports. Cole is appealing his suspension.

Kang faked a tag on Bryce Harper, who was coming into third base on a triple. The fake-out caused Harper to slide awkwardly, injuring his left thumb. The Nationals took exception to this and Cole threw a fastball that ended sailing behind Kang’s back during his next at-bat. Cole was ejected and both benches emptied. There was some yelling and some light pushing and shoving, but nothing beyond that.

Cole will remain active until his appeal is heard, which may allow him to make one more start before the end of the regular season. He’s carrying a 5.09 ERA with a 37/14 K/BB ratio in 35 1/3 innings over seven starts this season.