Mets, Mariners among Smoltz's early suitors

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A source told FOXSports.com that the Cardinals, Dodgers, Mets, Mariners, Astros, Rangers and Orioles have expressed early interest in free agent John Smoltz.
That there are three AL clubs in the group of seven teams is a bit of a surprise. It figured that the interest in Smoltz would be mostly concentrated among NL teams, given that Smoltz went 2-5 with an 8.32 ERA in eight starts for the Red Sox last season. He was 1-3 with a 4.26 ERA in seven starts for St. Louis.
The report indicates that Smoltz is open to the possibility of returning to closing duties next year. That may just be an effort to give him more bargaining power, though. Smoltz has always preferred starting, and he seems more likely to hold up physically working every five or six days than he would given a reliever’s workload. Plus, it’s a lot easier to sneak in a round of golf when you know exactly when you’ll be pitching.
So, while Smoltz will weigh all offers, his best chance of adding to his Cooperstown resume would come as a starter in the National League. A return to St. Louis would make a lot of sense, given pitching coach Dave Duncan’s track record with veteran starters. The Dodgers, Cubs and Brewers could use him as well.

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)
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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.