Felix Hernandez tests oblique strain by throwing off flat ground

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Felix Hernandez hasn’t pitched since September 2 due to a minor oblique strain on his left side, but he’s hoping to rejoin the Mariners’ rotation as soon as next week.

According to Greg Johns of MLB.com, Hernandez didn’t have any problems throwing off flat ground prior to yesterday’s game against the Cardinals. He’s scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Monday, potentially clearing the way for him to start Wednesday against the Tigers.

Hernandez is 12-9 with a 3.01 ERA and 200/41 K/BB ratio in 194 1/3 innings over 29 starts this season. He was being mentioned as a potential threat for American League Cy Young Award honors for a while, but a 6.42 ERA over his last six starts has put a damper on things.

Padres may have more interest in Dallas Keuchel than Bryce Harper

Dallas Keuchel
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An interesting tidbit today from The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, who noted that ongoing talks between agent Scott Boras and the Padres have focused more on starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel than slugger Bryce Harper. Earlier this week, there were conflicting reports on the Padres’ level of interest in Harper — MLB Network’s Jon Heyman heard the club had not ruled out another big signing after getting Manny Machado, while Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune talked to multiple sources who believed otherwise — but any agreement between the two is looking unlikelier by the day.

As for Keuchel, Rosenthal cautions that a potential deal is still a “longshot,” especially as the team has other, cheaper options in mind. The 31-year-old southpaw turned down a qualifying offer from the Astros last year and is likely angling for something north of the five-year, $90 million contract extension he rejected from the club in 2016. He’s coming off of another solid performance in Houston, where he went 12-11 in 34 starts with a 3.74 ERA, 2.6 BB/9, 6.7 SO/9, and 3.6 fWAR through 204 2/3 innings in 2018.

While Keuchel has failed to garner substantial interest around the league this offseason, Heyman points out that the Phillies are looking to establish themselves as frontrunners for the lefty — and they’re far less likely to have hang-ups about his asking price, too.