Cliff Lee scratched from Saturday start against the Tigers because of neck stiffness

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Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. told Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com on Friday afternoon that he is open to trade offers for a range of Phillies players, including left-handed starter Cliff Lee. But that specific situation just got a bit complicated.

According to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Lee has been scratched from his scheduled start Saturday against the Tigers because of a stiff neck. Raul Valdes will take the mound in his place.

Some have suggested that Lee’s scratching might be part of a sudden push by the Phillies to execute a trade — the 34-year-old ace would be rested and ready to pitch right away if dealt to a new team — but there’s been no indication of that being the case.

Lee, 34, has a 3.05 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and 131/22 K/BB ratio in 144 2/3 innings this season for the 49-53 Phillies. He’s owed $50 million in 2014-2015 and carries a $27.5 million vesting option for 2016. Crasnick notes that the Red Sox, Cardinals, Dodgers, Pirates, Indians and Braves are seeking a frontline starter.

Marcus Stroman dealing with blister again

Marcus Stroman
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Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman might be headed to the disabled list soon, manager John Gibbons told reporters following Friday’s rain-shortened loss to the Yankees. The righty lasted just four innings on the mound before calling it a night, and gave up five runs, six hits and two walks in a performance that Gibbons claimed was at least partially affected by recurring blister issues on his right middle finger. Now, it looks like he might be removed from the rotation for some much-needed rest and rehabilitation; if so, it’ll be his second such stint this year.

Stroman, 27, has struggled to return the kind of winning record and sub-4.00 ERA that characterized his previous seasons with the club, mostly due to the combined seven weeks he missed with blisters on his throwing hand and chronic fatigue in his right shoulder. In a recent start against the Rays, things got even more gruesome when his blister appeared to start bleeding in the middle of his outing and MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm notes that the wound has constantly interfered with the right-hander’s pitch selection and delivery. When healthy, Stroman has managed a 4-8 record through 18 starts in 2018 with a career-worst 5.27 ERA, 3.2 BB/9 and 6.8 SO/9 in 100 2/3 innings. This will be the first year since 2015 in which he has not logged at least 200 innings in a single season.

While Stroman may not need an extended stay on the DL before he returns to the mound, it’s not clear what kind of timetable the Blue Jays expect for his recovery. He’s been the second-most valuable starter (behind the now-traded J.A. Happ) in a rotation that currently ranks 17th in the majors with a combined 4.90 ERA and 6.8 fWAR.