Stephen Strasburg wants to be a workhorse this season

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The Nationals handled Stephen Strasburg with the ultimate level of care last season, only allowing him to throw more than 100 pitches in a game a handful of times and ultimately cutting him off at 159 1/3 total frames. It was a smart strategy for a prized pitcher coming off Tommy John surgery, but the ace right-hander is looking forward to a little more freedom.

“I’m not trying to get out there and get used to throwing 90, 94 pitches,” Strasburg told Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post on Saturday in Nationals camp. “You look at some of the top pitchers in the game, they go at least 110 every time out. I’m going to be prepared for it. … Just got to keep working, keep grinding.”

Strasburg has a 2.94 ERA and 1.09 WHIP in 45 career starts. He has fanned 313 batters in 251 1/3 career innings. And he is just now being let loose. It’s a frightening thought for the rest of the National League.

Report: Orioles interested in Alex Cobb

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MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the Orioles have interest in free agent right-hander Alex Cobb, who rejected his one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Rays earlier this week. Cobb was most recently linked to the Cubs, who reportedly reached out to his agent during the GM Meetings and garnered mutual interest from the righty, but nothing appears to be set in stone yet.

Cobb, 30, completed his sixth season with the Rays in 2017. He went 12-10 in 29 starts and turned in a respectable 3.66 ERA, 6.4 SO/9 and career-best 2.2 BB/9 in 179 1/3 innings. Despite losing a couple of weeks to turf toe, he remained healthy for most of the year and showed no signs of the elbow issues that robbed him of the majority of his 2015-2016 campaigns.

It’s still fairly early for any deals to come to fruition, but Morosi notes that the Orioles seem to be focused on bulking up their rotation during the first few months of the offseason. It’ll take more than a healthy Alex Cobb to right that ship, however: Orioles’ starters earned a collective 5.70 ERA and 5.5 fWAR in 2017, good for worst and fourth-worst marks in the league, respectively. Behind Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy (and perhaps Gabriel Ynoa/Miguel Castro), they still need three viable starters to compete in 2018. Whether or not they can afford to spring for a single starter with Cobb’s price tag (four years, $48 million, per MLB Trade Rumors) remains to be seen.