The Mariners could add intrigue to the Masahiro Tanaka sweepstakes

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Japanese pitching star Masahiro Tanaka will be courted by a handful of interested teams, including the Yankees, Dodgers, Cubs, Rangers, and Diamondbacks, but as ESPN’s Andrew Marchand details, it may be the Mariners who emerge victorious by the January 24 deadline.

Marchand cites some reasoning laid out by Dan Szymborski also at ESPN — that Seattle has been a comfortable place for Japanese players in the past and that the team still has money to spend. Marchand adds that Seattle would be closer to Japan than any other location, and that current Mariners starter Hisashi Iwakuma was previously a teammate of Tanaka’s with the Rakuten Golden Eagles.

The Mariners were expected to make at least one more noteworthy move after signing Robinson Cano to a ten-year, $240 million contract, such as trading with the Rays for David Price, or signing free agents Nelson Cruz or Matt Garza, but nothing has materialized other than adding Logan Morrison and Corey Hart. Adding Tanaka would make them a legitimate threat in the AL West.

Report: Steven Matz has been pitching through pain, may need elbow surgery

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Newsday’s Marc Carig reports that Mets starter Steven Matz has been pitching through pain for most of the season. He may need surgery to fix a nerve issue in his elbow. Matz was sidelined in spring training with an elbow injury and made his regular season debut on June 10.

Matz, 26, has struggled over 13 starts, posting a 6.08 ERA with a 48/19 K/BB ratio in 66 2/3 innings. Many were scrambling for explanations for his pitching woes and now they have it.

According to Carig, the Mets let Matz skip his bullpen sessions to help him pitch through the pain. Given the Mets’ shoddy history of dealing with injuries, that’s not a good look for the club.

Carig noted on Twitter that Jacob deGrom offers some optimism for Matz’s case. deGrom underwent right elbow surgery to repair ulnar nerve damage last September and bounced back to have a great season this year.

Clayton Kershaw’s simulated game went so well he threw an extra inning

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Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw was scheduled to throw three innings in a simulated game on Monday. That simulated game went so well, he threw an extra inning, MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports. Kershaw will make a minor league rehab start next and could be activated towards the end of next week.

Kershaw, 29, has been on the disabled list since July 24 with a lower back strain. That put the pause button on another outstanding season. He’s carrying a 15-2 record with a 2.04 ERA and a 168/24 K/BB ratio in 141 1/3 innings.

The 87-35 Dodgers have run away with the NL West, needing some combination of 20 wins and 20 Rockies losses (19 for the third-place Diamondbacks) to officially clinch the division. While the Dodgers are all but mathematically assured of reaching postseason baseball, the club would still like to get Kershaw as ready as possible over the next month-plus.