Whenever the Nationals shut down Stephen Strasburg the “leading candidate” to replace him in the rotation is John Lannan, according to James Wagner of the Washington Post.
Lannan has spent nearly all of this season at Triple-A despite throwing 185 innings with a 3.70 ERA for the Nationals last season and being paid $5 million this year. And he hasn’t even been much good in the minors, starting 22 games with a 4.89 ERA and 74/49 K/BB ratio in 131 innings.
He has, however, pitched reasonably well in a pair of spot starts for the Nationals and is already on the 40-man roster, making Lannan a guaranteed September call-up.
The Blue Jays have released right-handed reliever John Axford from his minor league contract, per an announcement on Saturday. Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi speculates that the move could provide an avenue for the club to rework Axford’s contract, but the Blue Jays have yet to confirm or deny the report.
Axford, 35, was dealt a blow on Thursday after getting diagnosed with a stress reaction in the olecranon bone of his right elbow. Elbow soreness dogged the right-hander through much of his time in camp, and although he was scheduled for a follow-up examination later this spring, a definite return date had not been established.
Prior to the diagnosis, Axford was tabbed for a setup role with the team in 2019. He pitched to mixed results in 2018 (thanks in part to a late-season fracture of his right fibula) with a 5.27 ERA, 4.9 BB/9, and 9.8 SO/9 through 54 2/3 innings with the Blue Jays and Dodgers. Now, however, it’s not certain that he’ll return to the mound this season in any capacity.
Axford isn’t the only reliever the Blue Jays have lost to injury lately, either, as right-handers Ryan Tepera and Bud Norris have been sidelined with right elbow inflammation and forearm fatigue, respectively. Per Davidi, the Blue Jays offered Norris a $100,000 retention bonus to prevent him from opting out of the minor league contract he signed in February.