Chien-Ming Wang appears to have the inside track on the Nationals’ fifth starter job, which leaves John Lannan in a state of limbo. He does have an option remaining, so it’s possible he could begin the season with Triple-A Syracuse, but Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com reports that it’s increasingly likely that he’ll be traded prior to Opening Day.
Knobler names the Red Sox and Tigers as the teams believed to be the “most focused” on Lannan while the Astros have also shown some interest. Other potential suitors like the Mets or Padres could be scared off by Lannan’s $5 million salary for this season.
Lannan, 27, posted a 3.70 ERA and 106/76 K/BB ratio over 184 2/3 innings last season. He remains under team control through 2013, though a projected raise through the arbitration process will likely render him a non-tender candidate this offseason.
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.