Lester, Kershaw and Sanchez on pace to join exclusive club

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In the 50 years since the expansion era began in 1961, just 17 different left-handers have struck out over a batter an inning while qualifying for the ERA title. This year, three of them are on pace to do it for a second year in a row.
If things hold up, Clayton Kershaw, Jon Lester and Jonathan Sanchez will join Randy Johnson, Sandy Koufax, Sam McDowell, Johan Santana and Sid Fernandez as the only southpaws to have multiple seasons with at least 9 strikeouts per nine innings.
Here’s the list through 2009:
1. Randy Johnson – 12
2. Sandy Koufax – 4
2. Sam McDowell – 4
2. Johan Santana – 4
5. Sid Fernandez – 3
6. Rick Ankiel – 1
6. Erik Bedard – 1
6. Jorge De La Rosa – 1
6. Cole Hamels – 1
6. Scott Kazmir – 1
6. Clayton Kershaw – 1*
6. Jon Lester – 1*
6. Mark Langston – 1
6. Oliver Perez – 1
6. Jonathan Sanchez – 1*
6. Frank Tanana – 1
6. Bob Veale – 1
Lester is essentially a lock. With 208 strikeouts in 190 innings, he’s on pace to lead the majors in strikeouts per nine innings this year (if only because Brandon Morrow was shut down and won’t qualify for the ERA title). Kershaw has fanned 201 in 192 1/3 innings. Sanchez has struck out 176 in 169 2/3 innings.
It also looks like there will be a newcomer to the list. Francisco Liriano has fanned 189 in 178 1/3 innings, so he’s set to go over 9 K/IP for the first time.

Adam Eaton sustains leg injury after tripping over first base

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Nationals’ outfielder Adam Eaton was carried off the field after stumbling over first base on Friday night. In the ninth inning of the Nationals’ 7-5 loss to the Mets, Eaton appeared to catch his ankle on the bag as he ran out an infield single, suffering a leg injury on the fall. He was unable to put pressure on his left leg after the play and required assistance by two of the Nationals’ athletic trainers as he exited the field.

Eaton is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday, but Nationals’ manager Dusty Baker told reporters that it “doesn’t look too good.” It’s the first significant leg injury the outfielder has sustained since 2014, when he went on the 15-day disabled list with a hamstring strain. He’ll likely be replaced by Michael Taylor in center field for the next couple of games, though that could be a temporary fix as the Nationals seek a better solution during Eaton’s recovery process.

Madison Bumgarner likely sidelined through the All-Star break

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It’s been just over a week since Giants’ left-hander Madison Bumgarner got a serious scare after a nasty dirt bike accident. He escaped with bruised ribs and a Grade 2 strain of his left shoulder AC joint, but there was some speculation that the injuries would cause a significant, if not permanent, setback in the southpaw’s career. Thankfully, things aren’t looking quite so bleak today. Not only will Bumgarner not require surgery, but he could return as soon as the week following the All-Star break, the Giants said Friday.

Of course, that timeline is wholly dependent on how smoothly the recovery process goes, so nothing is set in stone yet. NBC Sports Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic estimates 2-3 months of rest and rehab, including “two months before he can get back on the mound and then another three to four weeks of throwing and rehab starts before he’s big league-ready.” It’s a long and laborious schedule, but still looks much better than any surgical alternative.

Prior to the accident, Bumgarner was working on a solid start to the 2017 season. He maintained a 3.00 ERA, 1.3 BB/9 and 9.3 SO/9 through 27 innings with the club, though his average 1.75 runs of support per start fed into an 0-3 record.