John Lannan replaces Strasburg, combines on shutout

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John Lannan’s return to Washington’s rotation was a very good one, as he pitched 5 2/3 scoreless innings Wednesday and combined with five relievers on a 2-0 shutout of the Mets.

Tonight was supposed to be Stephen Strasburg’s final start of the season, but he was shut down five days early after struggling against the Marlins last week. Lannan stepped into his place and proved more than equal to the task in his first outing since Aug. 3. The veteran left-hander has won all three of his starts for the Nationals this season, amassing a 2.18 ERA in the process.

The Nationals’ shutout meant rookie Matt Harvey was disappointed again. He allowed just one run and struck out 10 in five innings, yet he fell to 3-5 since his callup. He has a 2.92 ERA in nine starts.

Ryan Zimmerman and Ian Desmond supplied the offense for the Nationals, both hitting solo homers. The Mets outhit the Nats 8-7 in the contest.

Tigers sign Josh Thole to minors deal

Josh Thole
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The Tigers signed catcher Josh Thole to a minor league deal, per an announcement from the Double-A Erie SeaWolves on Friday. Thole is expected to report to Double-A Erie, where he’ll split time with starting catcher Jake Rogers.

Thole, 31, has not appeared in a major or minor league game since 2016. He signed a minors deal with the Diamondbacks back in 2017, but was sidelined through most of the season after undergoing hamstring surgery in April. He was released by the team during spring training and failed to catch on with another major league club through the first two months of the 2018 season.

While the veteran backstop hasn’t tested his skills in pro ball for several years now, he held his own during a short-lived run with the independent New Britain Bees of the Atlantic League. Over 17 games in 2018, Thole batted .317/.425/.367 with three extra-base hits and a .791 OPS in 75 plate appearances. He’s expected to serve as catching depth within the Tigers’ organization, but may yet work his way back to the majors if he can get his average back over the Mendoza Line again — a feat he hasn’t managed since 2015.