Dodgers strip Jonathan Broxton of closer's role

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Believing his hulking right-hander has lost his confidence, manager Joe Torre today removed Jonathan Broxton for the closer’s role and replaced him with left-hander Hong-Chih Kuo.
He added that Octavio Dotel would be used if a save chance materializes Friday, only because Kuo has pitched on back-to-back days.
Broxton gave up four runs in taking a blown save and a loss Thursday against the Phillies. He’s blown three saves since the All-Star break, taking losses in each of those games. He also suffered a fourth loss after entering a tie game. He has a 10.13 ERA and a 5/11 K/BB ratio in eight innings since saving the All-Star Game for the NL. He finished the first half with a 2.11 ERA and a 55/7 K/BB ratio in 38 1/3 innings.
The switch may seem like a bit of a panic move, but if it means that Broxton starts getting regular work again, it would definitely be for the best. With the Dodgers slumping, he’s made just eight appearances in the month since the All-Star Game. Including his All-Star appearance on July 13, he’s made his last nine appearances on the following days rest:
3, 4, 1, 3, 2, 3, 2, 3, 4
Compare that to the much more fragile Kuo. He’s made 12 appearances since July 17, coming on the following days rest:
2, 1, 1, 2, 1, 1, 2, 3, 0, 2, 0
Kuo isn’t being used as a specialist, either: he’s pitched 12 2/3 innings in those dozen appearances.
So, this just might work out. Broxton can pitch every other day or more frequently until he runs off a few strong outings, and Kuo might get a bit of a break while being reserved for the ninth. That’s probably not the reasoning behind it, but it could help the Dodgers in the long run.

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.