Jon Garland “is on track to return as early as April 15”

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Jon Garland has been sidelined since early March with a strained oblique muscle, but Owen Perkins of MLB.com reports that he could be cleared to join the Dodgers’ rotation “as early as April 15.”

Before that happens he’ll need to avoid setbacks while throwing a bullpen session Friday and then making a minor-league rehab start at Single-A, so manager Don Mattingly stressed that an April 15 return would be “the best-case scenario.”

By signing Garland to a one-year deal this offseason the Dodgers headed into spring training with six starters for five rotation spots, but Garland’s strained oblique muscle and Vicente Padilla’s forearm surgery quickly caused that depth to vanish.

Mattingly told Perkins that Garland has been pushing hard to come off the disabled list sooner than the Dodgers have mapped out, which isn’t surprising given that his incentive-laden contract has significant bonuses based on innings.

Johnny Cueto expected to opt-out of his deal after the season

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Johnny Cueto signed a six-year $130 million deal with the Giants prior to the 2016 season. In his first season he went 18-5 with a 2.79 ERA and 198 strikeouts in 219.2 innings, helping lead the Giants to the playoffs. This season has been rocky for Cueto — he’s got a a 4.42 ERA in 15 starts and has battled blisters — but they’ve been far rockier for the Giants overall, as they sit in last place in the NL West and have the second worst record in baseball.

Many suspect that the Giants will either rebuild or, at the very least, restructure some in response to this nightmare year. If so, they’re likely going to be doing it with Cueto, who Jon Heyman reports is going to opt-out of his deal:

San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Johnny Cueto is planning to opt out of his contract at the end of the year, but he would listen to any extension offer . . . Cueto has $84 million to go over four years. It would probably take an injury or major slump for Cueto not to opt out. But it makes sense that he will.

Heyman says the Giants are not inclined to give him an extension, so expect to see Cueto on the free agent market three days after the World Series ends, which is the deadline for him to exercise his opt-out rights.

The Dodgers are concerned about Julio Urias’ shoulder

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Things are going great for the Dodgers lately. They’ve won seven consecutive games and 13 of their last 14. They lead the National League in wins and are in first place in, arguably, the best division in baseball.

But there are a lot of moving parts on a baseball team, and even when some things are going great, other things can go not-so-great. Like this:

Urias has been diagnosed with shoulder inflammation and shut down indefinitely. An MRI last week showed no structural damage, but his shoulder is still bothering him. He has not pitched in the bigs since late May, when he allowed seven runs in less than three innings against the Miami Marlins. He was sent down after that and went 3-0 with a 3.12 ERA, six walks and 17 strikeouts in 17.1 innings pitched in three starts with Oklahoma City before being shelved.