With division title clinched, Gio Gonzalez won’t make final start for Nationals

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The Nationals have scratched Gio Gonzalez from his final regular season start tonight after clinching the NL East title last night.

Washington is still fighting Cincinnati for the No. 1 seed, but manager Davey Johnson has decided that resting Gonzalez for a Game 1 start in the NLDS is more important. Tom Gorzelanny will take his place against the Phillies.

Making a 33rd start also could have helped Gonzalez’s case for the Cy Young award, but instead he’ll finish two-thirds of an inning short of cracking 200 innings for the third straight season and ends the year 21-8 with a 2.89 ERA.

Nathan Eovaldi to make 2018 debut for Rays soon

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Rays manager Kevin Cash said that pitcher Nathan Eovaldi will join the starting rotation on Monday or Tuesday to face the Athletics, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. Eovaldi’s rehab outing with Triple-A Durham went well, even though he gave up eight runs in four innings.

Eovaldi, 28, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2016 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He had arthroscopic surgery in March to remove loose bodies in his elbow. It’s been a long road back. Knowing Eovaldi needed to recover from surgery, the Rays signed him to a one-year, $2 million contract in 2017 that included a $2 million club option for 2018 that they exercised last November.

When Eovaldi last pitched, he ranked among baseball’s hardest throwers, particularly among starters. He averaged 97.1 MPH on his fastball in 2016. Among starters who racked up at least 100 innings that season, only the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard had a higher average velocity (97.9 MPH). It remains to be seen if he still has that velocity after undergoing two procedures on his elbow.

The Rays will be glad to have Eovaldi back. The club has sustained injuries to Jake Faria, Yonny Chirinos, and Jose De Leon.