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Leyland: “Cano is one of the best players I’ve ever seen”

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Tigers manager Jim Leyland offered high praise for Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano before Game 2 of the ALDS Sunday in New York:

“My staff think he’s one of the top five players in all of baseball without question,” Leyland said. “He’s a great player. He’s one of the best players I’ve ever seen. He came up on the big stage last night. We have the utmost respect for him obviously, as we do the Yankee team.”

(Quote comes via ESPN’s Andrew Marchand)

Cano hit a grand slam and tallied six total RBI in Saturday’s 9-3 Game 1 defeat of Detroit. He also had a monstrous regular season, posting a .302/.349/.533 batting line with 28 home runs and 118 RBI in 681 plate appearances. But is he really one of the top five players in the league right now? To the numbers:

According to FanGraphs’ calculation of WAR (Wins Above Replacement), the top 10 players in baseball this season were (in order): Jacoby Ellsbury, Matt Kemp, Jose Bautista, Dustin Pedroia, Ryan Braun, Ian Kinsler, Miguel Cabrera, Curtis Granderson, Alex Gordon and Joey Votto. Cano ranked 22nd.

But, hey, maybe Leyland’s staff has better metrics. Or maybe October really is hyperbole’s favorite month.

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.