Mets and Twins reportedly front-runners for Ted Lilly

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Now that Cliff Lee is off the market contending teams in need of rotation help are turning their attention to pitchers like Ted Lilly.
He’s an impending free agent earning $12 million in the final season of a four-year, $40 million deal and Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune reports that Lilly “met with general manager Jim Hendry to discuss his future before Thursday night’s game with the Phillies.”
Hendry declined to comment about the meeting, while Lilly simply told Sullivan: “I don’t know if I have the right to discuss that. Write whatever you want.”
And so he did. Sullivan notes that “Hendry would like to keep Lilly, but he doesn’t know if the Cubs can meet his free agent demands in November so he has to consider getting something in return.” He also adds that the Mets and Twins are the most likely suitors for Lilly, which matches an earlier report from Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com in Minnesota.
While certainly not in Lee’s stratosphere, Lilly is 47-34 with a 3.75 ERA in 110 starts for the Cubs, including a 4.08 ERA in 97 innings this year. However, he finished the first half with back-to-back clunkers and because he’ll likely be a Type A free agent this offseason the Cubs can choose to simply take a pair of compensatory draft picks for letting him walk if they aren’t satisfied with any of the trade packages being offered.

Clayton Kershaw might return to the Dodgers’ rotation next week

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Dodgers southpaw Clayton Kershaw is nearing his return to the mound, according to club manager Dave Roberts. Both Kershaw (left biceps tendinitis) and fellow lefty Rich Hill (left middle finger blister) are scheduled to toss simulated games on Saturday; depending on the outcome, Roberts says Kershaw could forgo a minor league assignment and slot back into the rotation by Thursday.

Kershaw, 30, was diagnosed with biceps tendinitis as the team closed out their Mexico Series at the start of the month. He has not made a start in several weeks, but was finally able to resume throwing on Sunday and managed to get through two successful bullpen sessions. Though Dodgers’ ace hasn’t been completely injury-free over his 11-year career in the majors, this is the first significant issue he’s had with his pitching arm so far. The team is expected to take every precaution with the lefty, and will likely limit him to just four innings during Saturday’s simulated game.

Prior to his injury, Kershaw was working on another dominant run with the club, sporting a 2.86 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 9.8 SO/9 through his first 44 innings of the season. While Kershaw, Hill and left-handed starter Hyun-Jin Ryu served their respective terms on the disabled list this month, the Dodgers utilized a combination of relievers Ross Stripling and Brock Stewart, both of whom impressed during their limited time in the rotation.