Lance Berkman needs knee surgery, making him doubtful for Opening Day

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Update: According to Alyson Footer, Astros Sr. Director of Social Media, Berkman underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee this morning. Dr. David Crumbie removed loose cartilage debris from the knee and did not see any sign of ligament or meniscus damage. He’s still expected to miss 2-4 weeks, leaving Opening Day in doubt.
Friday 1:40 pm: MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports that Lance Berkman will undergo arthroscopic surgery “to remove loose particles from his left knee” and will miss 2-4 weeks, putting his status for Opening Day in serious jeopardy.
“Whether or not he’s going to be ready for Opening Day really just depends on the healing process,” general manager Ed Wade said. “They haven’t even gone in yet so it’s too early to tell, but the normal time frame would be two-to-four weeks. We’ll see where it flows from there.”
Berkman was sidelined early in camp after bruising his knee during a drill, but Astros team doctor David Lintner called the injury “not serious” and the first baseman returned to the lineup for the next five games, going 4-for-11 with three doubles.
Berkman even said at the time that doctors advised him playing through the pain was “not going to be able to make it worse,” but apparently things have changed. Given that he’s a 34-year-old with a history of knee problems Berkman figures to be on the long end of the recovery timetable, making Opening Day a serious long shot.
As part of a six-year, $85 million contract Houston holds a $15 million team option or $2 million buyout on Berkman for next season, so after 14 years in the organization there was already speculation that they’d look to trade him or simply decline the option. He ranks sixth on the Astros’ all-time list for games played and is second to only Jeff Bagwell in homers.

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.