Nationals sign Nate McLouth

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Nate McLouth won’t have to move far, as Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the former Orioles outfielder has agreed to a two-year deal with the Nationals.

There’s no starting job for McLouth in Washington, where Bryce Harper, Denard Span, and Jayson Werth all figure to play almost every day, but Rosenthal says he’s “expected to get significant at-bats” in a fourth outfielder role.

How that will happen is unclear, especially since the most likely outfielder to take a seat on the bench is Span when a left-handed pitcher is on the mound and McLouth is also a left-handed hitter. It’s the same role David DeJesus seemed destined to fill when the Nationals claimed him off waivers in August, but then they quickly shipped him to the Rays.

McLouth turned his career around with the Orioles, going from nearly out of baseball to hitting .261 with a .742 OPS and 42 steals in 201 games.

UPDATE: Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun says the deal is worth $10.75 million, which is big money for a backup outfielder who doesn’t actually play center field well.

Gerrit Cole second-fastest to 200 strikeouts in a season

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Astros starter Gerrit Cole dominated the Athletics on Monday night, limiting them to one run on two hits and a walk while striking out 11. It marked his 12th start out of 22 this season with double-digit strikeouts, giving him 205 total on the season.

It is no surprise, then, to hear that Cole is the second-fastest in baseball history to reach 200 strikeouts in a season, per MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart. Cole got there in 133 1/3 innings. The only pitcher faster than Cole was Randy Johnson, who reached 200 K’s in 130 2/3 innings back in 2001 with the Diamondbacks.

Along with the 205 strikeouts, Cole holds an 11-5 record with a 3.03 ERA across 136 2/3 innings. Among qualified starters in the American League, only Charlie Morton (2.61), Mike Minor (2.86), José Berríos (2.96), and teammate Justin Verlander (2.99) have a better ERA than Cole, who has twice finished in the top-five in Cy Young Award voting.