Nationals debate whether to rest Jordan Zimmermann

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Jordan Zimmermann, who had a streak out 11 straight quality starts ended by poor defense in his outing Monday, might be held out through the All-Star break as the Nationals attempt to manage his innings.

Zimmermann made a strong case for a spot on the All-Star team with a 2.82 ERA in 17 starts this season.  He was fifth in the NL at 2.63 when the teams were picked Sunday, and his ERA should have held pretty steady Monday, except neither Roger Bernadina nor Jayson Werth wanted to take charge of an Alfonso Soriano flyball to right-center Monday in Zimmermann’s start against the Cubs.  What should have been a routine out ended up as a two-run single, and it took Zimmermann out of the running for a win.

The Nationals, though, didn’t want Zimmermann on the All-Star team anyway.  He’s at 108 2/3 innings in his first full year back from Tommy John surgery, and the team had been planning to limit him to 160 or so.  At his current pace, he’ll get there in eight or nine starts, which means he could be shut down for the entire month of September.

So, Zimmermann, who was slated to pitch again on Saturday, is likely looking at two weeks off.  The Nationals could hold him out through the All-Star break and then let him return to pitch somewhere between July 17-19.

Zach Britton receives stem cell injection, likely done for the season

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Orioles closer Zach Britton is likely done for the remainder of the 2017 season after receiving a stem cell injection in his left knee, Peter Schmuck and Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun report. Britton has been battling knee problems for most of the season.

The Orioles are still technically in the AL Wild Card race, entering play Thursday 5.5 games behind the Twins for the second Wild Card slot. With only nine games remaining, however, the 73-80 Orioles are likely being realistic about their chances and not taking any unnecessary risks with Britton.

Britton, 29, put up a 2.89 ERA with 15 saves and a 29/18 K/BB ratio in 37 1/3 innings this season. He will be eligible for arbitration for the fourth and final time this offseason.

Dodgers can clinch NL West on Friday

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The Dodgers staved off a four-game series sweep at the hands of the Phillies, winning 5-4 on Thursday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park. The win reduced their magic number in the NL West to one, meaning that a win against the Giants at home or a Diamondbacks loss to the Marlins on Friday will result in clinching the division.

Of course, the Dodgers winning and the Diamondbacks losing hasn’t exactly been a sure thing lately. The D-Backs rattled off a 13-game winning streak from August 24 through September 6. The Dodgers lost 11 games in a row from September 2-11 and were on a four-game slide before Thursday’s win.

The Dodgers will send Rich Hill to the mound to start opposite Jeff Samardzija. The Diamondbacks have Zack Greinke opposing Adam Conley.