Terry Francona

Tito tinkers with the lineup, but it doesn’t really matter

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Terry Francona is tinkering with the lineup for today’s game with the Yankees: he has moved Carl Crawford to the top of the order — his fourth different slot in seven games — and he’s rounding it out with Pedroia second, Gonzalez third and then Youkilis, Ortiz, Drew, Saltalamacchia, Ellsbury and Scutaro.

Lineup order doesn’t interest me too much. For example, unlike some — who are taking this very seriously — I haven’t gotten too worked up over the Braves batting Jason Heyward sixth. Is it ideal? No. But batting order is a pretty small thing in the grand scheme and there are a lot of things more worthy of my limited supplies of ire. Like golf. God, do I hate golf.

As for the Red Sox, this lineup change comes with a couple of pre-set storylines, ready for any result in today’s game.  If the Sox score a lot and win, Francona “sparked” things by putting Crawford in the leadoff spot. If they lose, Francona was “desperately shuffling, hoping for a spark.”

There are a butt-ton of good hitters in that lineup. Eventually they’ll all hit, and it won’t really matter where they’re at.

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.