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Stephen Strasburg now expected to start for the Nationals

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Jon Morosi of MLB Network just tweeted that Stephen Strasburg is now likely to pitch for the Nationals today in their Game 4 matchup with the Chicago Cubs. UPDATE: It’s official. Strasburg has the start.

If this holds, it’s certainly a reversal from yesterday, when Dusty Baker and the Nats said Strasburg was too sick to pitch. That led to a bunch of confusion, with some reporting that it was simply a matter of miscommunication and others suggesting that, in reality, Strasburg had begged out of his start.

Did Strasburg shrink from the spotlight in today’s Game 4? Was he really sick? If so, was he so sick that it was reasonable to rule him out for a Wednesday start on a Tuesday? If not, why did they do it anyway? Did Strasburg and/or the Nats get a sense of the heat they were taking over all of this and cave?

No idea. All I now is that this has been the most confusing 18 hours or so I can recall in the runup to a playoff game in some time.

Mets invite Tim Tebow to spring training

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Tim Tebow isn’t letting go of his major league dreams just yet. The former NFL quarterback is slated to appear with the Mets during spring training this year, extending what initially looked like an ill-fated career choice for at least one more season. Per the club’s official announcement on Friday, he’ll join a group of spring training invitees that includes top-30 prospects like Peter Alonso, P.J. Conlon, Patrick Mazeika and David Thompson.

Tebow, 30, hasn’t taken to professional baseball as gracefully as expected. He batted a cumulative .226/.309/.347 with eight home runs and a .656 OPS in 486 plate appearances for Single-A Columbia and High-A St. Lucie in 2017. While that wasn’t enough to compel the Mets to give the aging outfielder a big league tryout, there’s no denying that Tebow brought substantial benefit to their minor league affiliates — in the form of increased attendance figures and ticket sales, that is.

Even after the Mets were booted from the NL East race last September, they resisted the idea of promoting Tebow for a late-season attendance boost of their own. That’s not to say they’re planning on taking the same approach in 2018; Tebow will undoubtedly get his cup of coffee in the majors at some point, but for now, a Grapefruit League tryout is likely as close as he’ll ever get to playing with the team’s big league roster on an everyday basis.