R.A. Dickey will make weekend start after MRI exam

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R.A. Dickey has been bothered by neck and back problems for most of the season, but an MRI exam showed no structural damage and the Blue Jays announced that he’s expected to take his normal turn in the rotation Saturday against the Mariners.

Toronto manager John Gibbons told John Lott of the National Post that Dickey has merely “a little inflammation.” However, while that definitely qualifies as positive news it doesn’t change the fact that Dickey has mostly struggled this year with a 4.50 ERA in 36 innings and the knuckleballer has admitted that the discomfort limits him on the mound at times.

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.