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John Lackey plans to pitch in 2018

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When John Lackey exited after a 1-2-3 fifth inning in Game 5 of the NLCS against the Dodgers last month, many assumed that marked his final appearance in the major leagues. The now 39-year-old was expected to retire.

Lackey is not retiring and intends to pitch in 2018, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports. He’s a free agent, so he will be looking for major league deals heading into spring training.

Lackey finished the 2017 regular season with a 4.59 ERA and a 149/53 K/BB ratio in 170 2/3 innings across 30 starts and one relief appearance with the Cubs. He led the National League, allowing 36 home runs. Pitching, however, is always in demand so Lackey should still draw some interest despite his age and declining numbers.

Shohei Ohtani no longer facing Masahiro Tanaka on Sunday at Yankee Stadium

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Shohei Ohtani has essentially become the Angels’ designated Sunday starting pitcher, but Angels manager Mike Scioscia announced Thursday morning that the 23-year-old two-way Japanese star will be skipped in the rotation this weekend at Yankee Stadium for “workload management” purposes.

Ohtani is fine to continue hitting, so there’s no sense of any physical ailment.

This decision will rob us — and the Japanese media — of a showdown between Ohtani and countrymate Masahiro Tanaka. And for that we are rather devastated, but you can understand the Angels’ concerns about overuse.

Ohtani has registered a 3.35 ERA, 1.066 WHIP, and 52/14 K/BB ratio through his first 40 1/3 innings (seven starts) as a major league pitcher and he’s slashing .308/.364/.582 with six home runs and 19 RBI in 26 games as a part-time DH.