Jonathan Sanchez aiming to return later this month

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Giants starter Jonathan Sanchez hasn’t pitched in a game since August 16 due to a badly sprained left ankle and is still dealing with discomfort here in early September. But he hasn’t given up on returning to action before the end of the 2011 regular season.

According to Carl Steward of the San Jose Mercury News, Sanchez was able to throw a brief bullpen session on Saturday afternoon in San Francisco and could be ready for the final two weeks of September if he continues to make steady progress.

The 28-year-old left-hander has posted an underwhelming 4.26 ERA and 102/66 K/BB ratio across 101 1/3 innings this season for the second-place Giants. He had a sparkling 3.07 ERA, 1.23 WHIP and 205 strikeouts in 193 1/3 innings last season.

“I’m feeling a lot better,” Sanchez told the Mercury News after his Saturday throwing session. “I’m not 100 percent, but right around 60-65. When I got hurt, I couldn’t throw. I couldn’t push off, but now I can. It’s progressing. We’ve got a month left and my ankle’s getting better every day, so I’ll do whatever I can. I just want to get to the playoffs, so I’ll do whatever they want me to do bullpen, starting, whatever.”

The defending-champion Giants are currently six games back of the Diamondbacks in the National League West standings and 8 1/2 games behind the Braves in the hunt for the National League Wild Card.

Diamondbacks, T.J. McFarland avoid arbitration

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Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Diamondbacks and reliever T.J. McFarland have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $1.45 million salary for the 2019 season. McFarland, in his third of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $1.675 million while the Diamondbacks countered at $1.275 million. McFarland ended up settling for just under the midpoint of those two figures.

McFarland, 29, was terrific out of the bullpen for the D-Backs last season, finishing with a 2.00 ERA and a 42/22 K/BB ratio in 72 innings. While the lefty may not miss a lot of bats, he does induce quite a few grounders. His 67.9 percent ground ball rate last season was the third highest among relievers with at least 50 innings, trailing only Brad Ziegler (71.1%) and Scott Alexander (70.6%).

McFarland was dominant against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .388 OPS last season, but the D-Backs deployed him nearly twice as often against right-handed hitters, who posted an aggregate .764 OPS against him. It will be interesting to see if the club decides to use him more as a platoon reliever in 2019.