OK, Clayton Kershaw's season is NOT over

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UPDATE: So much for that. The Dodgers had to scratch Hiroki Kuroda for Sunday’s start, which means Kershaw is going back in the rotation for Friday’s start, with Chad Billingsley and Ted Lilly picking up Saturday and Sunday.

In other news, I am 100% certain that hundreds of players will be shut down for the season by late Sunday afternoon. Bank on it.

11:29 A.M.: Clayton Kershaw was scheduled to start today, but the Dodgers have decided that 32 starts and 204 and a third innings are enough for the year and have shut him down.

Of course the timing of the announcement — The Dodgers just told Kershaw that he wouldn’t be starting today’s game as scheduled until after last night’s game — suggests that the innings and starts count, in and of themselves, weren’t enough to warrant him being shut down for the year. Rather, it would seem that the Rockies being eliminated, rendering today’s Dodgers-Rockies contest meaningless, was the key factor.

There’s something I like about the Dodgers caring about the integrity of the competition faced by would-be playoff contenders, so much so that they’d run out their 22 year-old ace for another start when they otherwise wouldn’t due to innings limits. There’s something a bit troubling about it too in that, if they were worried at all about his workload, they probably should have been prepared to sit him anyway.

It’s just another thing — like having the individual player awards enter into player usage and possibly even strategy — that has always made this last week of the season so darn awkward. 

Seattle Mariners to make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani

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Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a team-sponsored podcast the other day that the M’s will make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani. To that end, Dipoto said that the M’s would be willing to let the two-way star to pitch and to hit, which is something Ohtani is interested in doing in the United States. Not all clubs are likely to let him do this, with most likely seeing him as a starting pitcher only.

Ohtani, who is expected to be posted by his Japanese team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, possibly as early as today, can sign with anyone he wants. He is, however, subject to the international bonus pool caps, so the bids on him will be somewhat limited. The Texas Rangers and New York Yankees have the most money available: $3.535 million for the Rangers and $3.5 million for the Yankees. The Twins ($3.245 million), Pirates ($2.266 million), Marlins ($1.74 million) and Mariners ($1.57 million) are the only other teams with more than $1 million left. Twelve teams — including the Dodgers, Cubs, Cardinals and Astros — are limited to a maximum of $300,000, having met or exceeded their caps for this signing period already.

Ohtani, however, is said to be less motivated by money than he is by finding the right situation. While a lot of guys say that, the fact that Ohtani is coming over to the U.S. now, when his financial prospects are limited, as opposed to waiting for two years when he is not subject to the bonus caps and could sign for nine figures, suggests that he is telling the truth. As such, a team like the Mariners that is willing to allow him to hit and pitch could make up for the couple of million less they have in bonus money to spend.

As for how that might work logistically, Dipoto said that the team would be willing to play DH Nelson Cruz a few days in the outfield to accommodate Ohtani, allowing him to DH on the days he’s not pitching. That might be . . . interesting to see, but given how badly the Mariners could use a good starting pitcher, they have an incentive to be creative.

Ohtani, 23, suffered some injuries in 2017, limiting him to just five starts and 65 games as a hitter. In 2016, however, he hit .289/.356/.547 with 22 homers in 342 at-bats and went 11-3 with a 3.24 ERA, and a K/BB ratio of 146/51 in 133.1 innings as a starter.

Five clubs have more money to spend on Ohtani than the Mariners do. None of those teams are on the west coast, which some Asian players have said in the past they preferred due to faster travel back home. The Mariners, owned for a long time by a Japanese company which still retains a minority interest in the club, and long the home for high-profile Japanese players such as Ichiro and Hisashi Iwakuma, likely have a better media and marketing reach in Japan than most other teams as well, which might be a factor in his decision making process. Is all that enough to sway Ohtani?

We’ll find out over the next couple of weeks.