Orioles pick David Hernandez over Chris Tillman for final rotation spot

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Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com reports that the Orioles have settled on David Hernandez as their fifth starter, sending 22-year-old Chris Tillman to the minors this afternoon.
One of the best pitching prospects in baseball, Tillman made his big-league debut in July of last season and went 2-5 with a 5.40 ERA in a dozen starts for the Orioles. He entered camp as the presumptive favorite for the final rotation spot and pitched reasonably well in five spring outings, but the potential benefits of some additional seasoning in the minors and a 20/3 K/BB ratio from Hernandez sealed his fate.
Hernandez went 4-10 with a 5.42 ERA in 101.1 innings as a 24-year-old rookie last season, but a mid-90s fastball and 618 strikeouts in 534.2 innings as a minor leaguer give him significant upside if his control improves. He’ll join Opening Day starter Kevin Millwood, Jeremy Guthrie, Brian Matusz, and Brad Bergeson in the Orioles’ rotation, with Tillman waiting in the wings.

Zach Britton receives stem cell injection, likely done for the season

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Orioles closer Zach Britton is likely done for the remainder of the 2017 season after receiving a stem cell injection in his left knee, Peter Schmuck and Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun report. Britton has been battling knee problems for most of the season.

The Orioles are still technically in the AL Wild Card race, entering play Thursday 5.5 games behind the Twins for the second Wild Card slot. With only nine games remaining, however, the 73-80 Orioles are likely being realistic about their chances and not taking any unnecessary risks with Britton.

Britton, 29, put up a 2.89 ERA with 15 saves and a 29/18 K/BB ratio in 37 1/3 innings this season. He will be eligible for arbitration for the fourth and final time this offseason.

Dodgers can clinch NL West on Friday

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The Dodgers staved off a four-game series sweep at the hands of the Phillies, winning 5-4 on Thursday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park. The win reduced their magic number in the NL West to one, meaning that a win against the Giants at home or a Diamondbacks loss to the Marlins on Friday will result in clinching the division.

Of course, the Dodgers winning and the Diamondbacks losing hasn’t exactly been a sure thing lately. The D-Backs rattled off a 13-game winning streak from August 24 through September 6. The Dodgers lost 11 games in a row from September 2-11 and were on a four-game slide before Thursday’s win.

The Dodgers will send Rich Hill to the mound to start opposite Jeff Samardzija. The Diamondbacks have Zack Greinke opposing Adam Conley.