Stephen Strasburg set to make final start of season Friday

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Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post lays out the Nationals’ pitching plans for the remainder of the season and it looks like Stephen Strasburg’s fourth and final start will come Friday against the Braves.

If he stayed on a normal rest schedule Strasburg would then be lined up to start the season finale on September 28, but according to Kilgore the Nationals will probably go with Brad Peacock instead.

Because the 162nd game is on the road there’s no temptation for the Nationals to let Strasburg send the fans off with a good memory of 2011, but right now the rotation plans are merely in pencil anyway.

Through three starts Strasburg has a 1.29 ERA and 11/0 K/BB ratio in 14 innings while averaging 95.9 miles per hour with his fastball. He’s been limited to around 60 pitches in all three outings as he builds back arm strength following Tommy John elbow surgery 12 months ago.

Jorge Soler diagnosed with strained oblique, Opening Day in doubt

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Royals outfielder Jorge Soler has been diagnosed with a strained oblique, making it likely that he begins the regular season on the disabled list, Rustin Dodd of The Kansas City Star reports.

The Royals acquired Soler from the Cubs in December in exchange for reliever Wade Davis. Over parts of three seasons with the Cubs, Soler hit .258/.328/.434 with 27 home runs and 98 RBI in 765 plate appearances.

When he’s healthy, Soler is expected to find himself in the Royals’ lineup as a right fielder and occasionally as a designated hitter.

Report: Cardinals, Yadier Molina making “major progress” on contract extension

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Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the Cardinals and catcher Yadier Molina are making “major progress” on a contract extension. Molina told the team he won’t discuss an extension during the season, hence the rapid progress.

Molina is entering the last guaranteed year of a five-year, $75 million contract signed in March 2012. He and the Cardinals hold a mutual option worth $15 million with a $2 million buyout for the 2018 season. The new extension would presumably cover at least the 2018-19 seasons and likely ’20 as well.

Molina is 34 years old but is still among the most productive catchers in baseball. Last season, he hit .307/.360/.427 with 38 doubles, 58 RBI, and 56 runs scored in 581 plate appearances. Though he has lost a step or two with age, Molina is still well-regarded for his defense. The Cardinals also value his ability to handle the pitching staff.