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JaCoby Jones leaves game after getting hit in the face with a pitch

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Tigers’ center fielder JaCoby Jones was removed from Saturday’s game after taking a pitch to the face during the third inning. He worked a 1-2 count against Twins’ reliever Justin Haley and tried to turn away from a 90 m.p.h. pitch, but the ball caught him in the nose and mouth area. Jones ran toward the dugout and was assisted by the Tigers’ athletic trainer as he exited the field.

Jones was replaced by pinch-runner Andrew Romine, but Dixon Machado grounded out to end the inning in the next at-bat. It was the first of two tumultuous moments for the Tigers, whose bench cleared in the fifth inning after Detroit left-hander Matthew Boyd threw behind Minnesota first baseman Miguel Sano. Things escalated when Sano got into an altercation with Tigers’ backstop James McCann, who hit the infielder in the face with his glove and received a hard shove in response, prompting the bench-clearing and ejections for both Boyd and Sano.

As for Jones, there’s no official word from the Tigers yet, but MLB.com’s Jason Beck reports that the outfielder has a “large gash of the upper lip” and will undergo further tests at the hospital this evening. Manager Brad Ausmus also believes it’s likely that Jones will land on the disabled list, though he didn’t give a specific timetable for his return. It’s the second injury sustained by the Tigers this weekend after they lost Miguel Cabrera to a right groin strain during Friday’s 6-3 loss.

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.