Jordan Zimmermann

Jordan Zimmermann will have an innings limit this season

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Jordan Zimmermann spent most of last season rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, but managed to return to the big leagues in late-August, just one year removed from the procedure.

The 24-year-old right-hander posted a 4.94 ERA and 27/10 K/BB ratio over seven starts with the Nats down the stretch. He was inconsistent and struggled with the home run ball at times, but averaged 92.3 mph on his fastball and was most importantly pain-free.

While Zimmermann figures to play a major role in the Nationals’ starting rotation this season, manager Jim Riggleman told Ben Goessling of MASNSports.com earlier today that he will face an innings limit.

“We’re not looking for Jordan to go out there and give us 200 innings this year. That’s more of the future,” Riggleman said. “But we do want him to go out there and be a stabilizer. He’s a guy who I think right now around baseball, regardless of what rotation he was in, would probably be looked at as a third starter. But we feel like he’s going to be better than that. It doesn’t all have to happen this year, but we do want to make progress toward that.”

Riggleman said he intends to speak with pitching coach Steve McCatty and pitching coordinator Spin Williams before the team settles on an exact number. Zimmermann has never tossed more than 134 innings in a single season — and that was in his first full professional season back in 2008 — so it’s fair to expect he’ll have a ceiling of approximately 150-160 innings.

It’s not like the Nationals are expected to contend this season, anyway — remember, there’s only an outside chance that Stephen Strasburg will pitch in September — but the front end of their starting rotation could be pretty formidable as soon as 2012.

Video: Aledmys Diaz hits a grand slam in remembrance of Jose Fernandez

ST. LOUIS, MO - JULY 21: Aledmys Diaz #36 of the St. Louis Cardinals hits an RBI single against San Diego Padres in the sixth inning at Busch Stadium on July 21, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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Cardinals shortstop Aledmys Diaz was childhood friends with Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, so it was expected when Diaz took time away from the team on Monday to visit Fernandez’s family in Miami. They grew up on the same street in Cuba and played for the same youth baseball team and both would ultimately wind up playing Major League Baseball in the United States.

In the bottom of the fourth inning of Tuesday night’s game against the Reds, Diaz hit a 2-1 Robert Stephenson fastball out to left-center field for a no-doubt grand slam. Teammate Yadier Molina gave Diaz a tight hug as he crossed home plate.

Before Tuesday’s game, Diaz said that the best way to honor Fernandez was to play with his passion, as MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports. Diaz said, “I only play for [Fernandez’s] family right now.”

Here’s the video.

AL East still mathematically undecided as Red Sox lose, Blue Jays win

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 27:  David Price #24 of the Boston Red Sox pitches in the first inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on September 27, 2016 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
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The Red Sox would have clinched the AL East if one of two things happened on Tuesday night: the Red Sox themselves beat the Yankees, or the Orioles defeated the Blue Jays. Neither happened.

The Jays soundly took down the Orioles 5-1 behind six strong innings from Aaron Sanchez. Josh Donaldson went 2-for-2 with a two-run home run and a pair of walks and leadoff batter Ezequiel Carrera went 2-for-3 with a solo homer, an RBI single, a walk, and three runs scored.

Meanwhile, at Yankee Stadium, the Yankees outlasted the Red Sox for a 6-4 win, responding to both two-run innings the Sox had in the sixth and seventh with a run in the sixth and two in the seventh. Gary Sanchez hit his 20th homer of the season. Didi Gregorius and Tyler Austin also contributed dingers. Starter Luis Cessa pitched well, limiting the Sox to two runs over six innings on five hits and a walk with two strikeouts. Red Sox starter David Price struggled, yielding six runs in 6 1/3 innings. Yankees reliever Tyler Clippard got into trouble in the ninth inning but was able to wiggle out of trouble to finish out the game.

Once again, the Red Sox will be able to clinch the AL East on Wednesday with a win over the Yankees or a Blue Jays loss to the Orioles.