The Nationals have shut down Stephen Strasburg effective immediately

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UPDATE: From Davey Johnson’s comments after last night’s game, it sounded like Stephen Strasburg might get an extra start, but the Nationals are actually pulling the plug early. According to Byron Kerr of MASN, Johnson just announced that Strasburg has been shut down effective immediately.

Strasburg was previously scheduled to make his final start of the season Wednesday against the Mets, but Johnson expressed concern after last night’s game that the controversy over the looming shutdown was effecting his performance. He will finish his season with a 15-6 record to go along with a 3.16 ERA and 197/48 K/BB ratio over 159 1/3 innings. John Lannan is expected to take his place in the starting rotation down the stretch.

10:44 AM: Stephen Strasburg’s impending shutdown was the big topic of conversation after he gave up five runs over just three innings last night against the Marlins. According to Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com, Nationals manager Davey Johnson thinks the whole situation is weighing on Strasburg’s mind.

“To be honest with you, I think he was thinking too much about the decision of what we were going to shut him down,” Davey Johnson said. “And he kind wore it like it. … I think he wasn’t focused as much on the game as he was on the impending shutdown. Just he way I read it.”

Strasburg said after the game that the looming shutdown had no impact on his performance last night, but Johnson said the young right-hander is “having trouble sleeping, thinking about letting the guys down.” He is currently slated to make his final start of the season Wednesday against the Mets, but Johnson said that last night’s abbreviated outing “might” make the Nationals reconsider their plan.

It’s hard to see how dragging this issue out for say, one extra start, is beneficial to anyone involved, but it looks like the Nationals want him to at least finish his season on a high note. The 24-year-old is currently at 159 1/3 innings in his first full year back from Tommy John surgery. He has a 3.16 ERA on the year, including a 3.73 ERA in 11 starts since the All-Star break.

Report: Phillies interested in Manny Machado; Orioles have done homework on Phillies’ minor league system

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Orioles third baseman Manny Machado will become a free agent after the 2018 season and there hasn’t been much in the way of progress on a contract extension between the two sides. It seems as if Machado will test the open market next offseason.

The Phillies, currently with relatively minuscule obligations for the 2018 season and beyond, are expected to be big players for Machado, as well as other potential free agents like Bryce Harper. In fact, the Phillies may not even want to wait until next offseason, as Roch Kubatko of MASN reports that the club has expressed interest in Machado to the Orioles. In return, the O’s have been doing their homework on the Phillies’ minor league system.

Kubatko notes that the Orioles like, in particular, Phillies prospects Sixto Sanchez and Scott Kingery. The Phillies may be hesitant to part with either considering they can get Machado for a lot of cash but no prospects next winter. MLB Pipeline rates Sanchez as the Phillies’ best pitching prospect and the second-best prospect overall in the system. Kingery is third overall and the top infielder. While the Phillies’ system is among the best in baseball, its notable weakness is pitching, so parting with Sanchez — who throws in the upper 90’s and can hit triple digits — would be a big ask. Kingery is seen as the club’s next second baseman of the future, so much so that the Phillies are shopping Cesar Hernandez at the Winter Meetings.

As usual with rumors during the Winter Meetings, there may be some smoke but no actual fire here. The Orioles are likely to get continued interest in Machado from many teams between now and the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. They are simply doing their due diligence by seeing what the Phillies and others have to offer for Machado.