Joe Nathan is feeling better after a “dead arm” period

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After a pair of ugly early season outings Tigers closer Joe Nathan talked last week about going through a “dead arm” phase, but now the 39-year-old is feeling much stronger.

Nathan pitched a scoreless inning Thursday, averaging 92 miles per hour with his fastball, and afterward told Jason Beck of MLB.com that his arm “did feel like it was a lot livelier.”

Four days between appearances probably helped and it’ll be interesting to see if the Tigers and first-year manager Brad Ausmus make a strong effort to limit Nathan’s workload, at least early in the season. They’re paying him $9 million this season and $10 million next season, and as fantastic as Nathan has been 39 years old is still 39 years old.

Report: Orioles interested in Lance Lynn

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The Orioles singlehandedly kept the rumor mill churning this weekend. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the club is interested in making a play for free agent right-hander Lance Lynn, adding him to a list of potential candidates that also includes free agent righty Alex Cobb. The two are expected to command similar contracts in free agency, but Morosi notes that the Orioles may prefer Cobb based on his familiarity with the AL East.

Lynn, 30, is two years removed from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. Despite missing the 2016 season, he bounced back with a respectable 11-8 record in 33 starts and complemented his efforts with a 3.43 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 7.4 SO/9 over 186 1/3 innings for the 2017 Cardinals. He lost several days with a blister on his pitching hand in early September, but managed to avoid any major injuries and can reasonably be expected to shoulder another heavy workload in 2018.

Lynn may not be the Orioles’ first choice to beef up their starting rotation, but there’s no doubt that he’ll be in high demand as one of very few viable starters on the market this winter. The veteran righty rejected his one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Cardinals on Thursday and will likely be seeking a multi-year contract, one that Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch estimates around five years and $100+ million. If the Orioles are willing to bite that bullet, they’ll still need to compensate the Cardinals with their third pick in next year’s draft.