Zack Greinke makes rehab start, on track to join reeling Dodgers on Wednesday

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The high-priced Dodgers dropped their eighth straight game last night against the Marlins and currently sit in last place in the National League West with a disappointing 13-21 record, but there is some help on the way.

Zack Greinke allowed eight runs (three earned) in 4 1/3 innings last night in a minor league rehab start with High-A Rancho Cucamonga. It was his first game action since he suffered a broken collarbone in a benches-clearing brawl with Padres outfielder Carlos Quentin on April 11.

The results weren’t great, but it’s tough to put too much stock into them since Greinke’s defense committed three errors. The good news is that he struck out three without issuing a walk and didn’t have any discomfort with the collarbone. According to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, Greinke feels that he’s ready to rejoin the Dodgers’ rotation.

“I am,” Greinke said when asked if he was ready to be activated. “I won’t be in midseason form, but I feel I’m able to get guys out.

“I just have to get my right arm ready. I’ll definitely head somewhere. I can’t say [where] without talking to somebody. I’m sure they’d rather me pitch better than the results. I felt I pitched OK. Get the lights of a Major League game and it’s different, you step up another notch.”

The Dodgers haven’t made an official announcement yet, but Greinke is currently lined up to face the Nationals on Wednesday at Dodger Stadium. The 29-year-old was originally expected to miss 6-8 weeks after surgery, but if activated Wednesday, he’ll have made it back in just over four weeks.

James Paxton will “nerd out big-time” to stay healthy next year

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To the surprise of, well, very few, the Mariners didn’t make the cut for the postseason this year. While they threw their hats in the ring for a wild card berth, their pitching staff just couldn’t stay healthy, from the handful of pitchers who contracted season-ending injuries in spring training to Felix Hernandez‘s shoulder bursitis to structural damage in Hisashi Iwakuma‘s right shoulder. Left-hander James Paxton missed 79 days with a lingering head cold, strained left forearm and pectoral strain. Heading into the 2018 season, the lefty told MLB.com’s Greg Johns that he plans to “nerd out big-time” in order to prepare for a healthy, consistent run with the club.

So far, Johns reports, that entails a new diet and workout program, hot yoga sessions and blood testing. “I just think there’s more I can do,” Paxton said. “I haven’t done the blood testing before. Finding out if there’s something I don’t know about myself. It’s just about learning and trying to find what works for me.”

When healthy, the 28-year-old southpaw was lights-out for the Mariners. He helped stabilize the front end of the rotation with a 12-5 record in 24 starts and supplemented his efforts with a 2.98 ERA, 2.4 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 136 innings. Despite taking multiple trips to the disabled list, he built up 4.6 fWAR — the most wins above replacement he’s compiled in any season of his career to date. Had he not been felled by a pectoral injury in mid-August — one that came with a five-week trip to the disabled list — the club might have been been able to make a bigger push for the playoffs.

Of course, even if Paxton manages to stay healthy next season, the Mariners still have the rest of the rotation to worry about. They cycled through 17 starters in 2017 and tied the 2014 Rangers with 40 total pitchers over the course of the season. Per GM Jerry Dipoto, their top four starters (Paxton, Hernandez, Iwakuma, and Tommy John candidate Drew Smyly) only contributed 17% of total innings pitched, just a tad below the 40% average. Finding adequate big league arms and compensating for injured aces (both current and former) will be tough. Still, getting a healthy, dominant Paxton back on the mound for 30+ starts would be a huge get for the team — whether or not the postseason is in their future next year.