Daily Dose: Hudson set for Monday return

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Out since last July following Tommy John elbow surgery, Tim Hudson is scheduled to make his season debut Monday against the Marlins while Kenshin Kawakami has his usual start skipped. Hudson has fared pretty well while rehabbing in the minors, posting a 3.86 ERA and 14/4 K/BB ratio in 23.1 innings between high Single-A and Triple-A, and the 34-year-old was regularly clocked in the low-90s for his last start.
Hudson is definitely worth a flier in NL-only leagues, but don’t expect him to produce mixed-league value again until next season. Atlanta’s decision to bump Kawakami from the rotation is an odd one, because he has a 3.52 ERA in 20 starts since a poor April. Bobby Cox expressed concern that Kawakami could wear down because he’d never made even 30 starts in Japan, but he has a 3.75 ERA since the All-Star break.
While the Braves welcome back a pitcher who went 54-38 with a 3.78 ERA through his first four years in Atlanta, here are some other notes from around baseball …


* Nyjer Morgan has provided a huge spark for the Nationals since they acquired him from the Pirates in late June, batting .351 with 22 steals and outstanding defense in 48 games. Unfortunately he’s now done for the season after suffering a broken hand Thursday, finishing his breakout campaign at .307/.369/.388 with 40 steals and 73 runs in 119 games. His teams were 51-64 when he started, 46-90 when he didn’t.
Morgan has played somewhat over his head and is already 29 years old, but is also a lock to be the Nationals’ starting center fielder and leadoff man again next season. While hitting over .300 with a .370 on-base percentage will be tough to repeat, he hit .293 in the minors, batted .296 in various stints with the Pirates prior to this season, and has the speed to swipe 50-plus bags even if his OBP declines a bit in 2010.
* Bumped from the rotation earlier this week, Brad Penny asked for and received his release Thursday. He pitched his way out of Boston by going 7-8 with a 5.61 ERA in 131.2 innings, including 0-4 with a 9.11 ERA in his last five starts, but several teams are reportedly already in the mix to sign him for the stretch run. Unless he winds up in the National League, don’t count on Penny having any real fantasy upside.
AL Quick Hits: Billy Wagner threw a bullpen session Thursday and informed the Red Sox that he’s unavailable to pitch on consecutive days … A.J. Burnett lost Thursday despite racking up a season-high 12 strikeouts … Francisco Liriano got a cortisone shot in his injured elbow Wednesday and may be out for the season … After shutting out the Yankees for six innings in his last start, Junichi Tazawa was rocked for nine runs Thursday … Rather than joining the White Sox’s rotation Jake Peavy (ankle) will make his fourth rehab start Saturday at Triple-A … Chris Davis homered off a lefty Thursday in his third straight start since being recalled from Triple-A … Andy Marte went 2-for-4 with a game-winning homer Thursday and now has a 1.000 OPS in his last 10 games … Jacoby Ellsbury left Thursday’s game after injuring his ankle on a feet-first slide … Adam Jones (back) is now hoping to rejoin the lineup Friday … You might be surprised to learn who leads the AL in homers since June 1.
NL Quick Hits: Garrett Jones hit a game-winning homer Thursday, going deep for the 15th time in 189 at-bats … Mike MacDougal recorded five outs with a one-run lead Thursday for his eighth save of the month … J.A. Happ took a complete-game loss Thursday, allowing three runs … St. Louis is reportedly close to signing 36-year-old closer Ryan Franklin to a contract extension … Bengie Molina (quadriceps) missed his third straight game and underwent an MRI exam Thursday … Chris Coghlan hit a pair of homers Thursday and is now batting .355 in the second half … Batting higher than fifth in the lineup for just the 15th time this season, Matt Kemp went 3-for-5 with a homer Thursday … Javier Vazquez tossed seven scoreless innings Thursday, with his ERA dropping to 3.02 … Vicente Padilla won his Dodgers debut Thursday with five innings of two-run ball … Thursday was Carlos Gonzalez’s first game back after slicing his hand with a steak knife and he promptly exited with a bruised thumb.

Bud Norris exits outing with right knee soreness

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Angels’ right-handed reliever Bud Norris made his 23rd appearance of the season on Friday, and after just three pitches, he was done for the night. He worked a 2-1 count to Marlins’ Dee Gordon in the eighth inning, then promptly exited the field after experiencing some tightness in his right knee. Neither Norris nor manager Mike Scioscia believe the injury is cause for major concern, and the 32-year-old right-hander admitted that it may have had something to do with his lack of stretching before he took the mound. For now, he’s day-to-day with right knee soreness, with the hope that the issue doesn’t escalate over the next few days.

While the Angels are lucky to have avoided serious injury, they’ll need Norris to pitch at 100% if they want to stay competitive within the AL West. They currently sit a full nine games behind the league-leading Astros, and haven’t been helping their cause after taking five losses in their last eight games. Friday’s 8-5 finale marked their third consecutive loss of the week.

 

When healthy, Norris has been one of the better arms in the Angels’ bullpen. Through 23 2/3 innings, he’s pitched to a 2.66 ERA, 3.4 BB/9 and an outstanding 11.8 SO/9 in 23 outings. The righty hasn’t allowed a single run in four straight appearances, recording three saves and helping the club clinch four wins in that span. This is his second setback of the year after sustaining a partial fingernail tear on his pitching hand during spring training.

Video: Max Scherzer sets record with 13-strikeout outing

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Max Scherzer is a force to be reckoned with. The Nationals’ right-hander delivered a season-high 13 strikeouts against the Padres on Friday, locking down his fifth win and his fourth double-digit strikeout performance of the year.

More remarkably, it was also the 53rd double-digit strikeout performance of Scherzer’s career, tying Clayton Kershaw for the most 10+ strikeout appearances by an active major league pitcher. Chris Sale is a distant third, with 43 to his name, though he’s been making considerable strides to catch up so far this spring.

Scherzer took the Padres to task on Friday night, whiffing 13 of 31 batters during his 108-pitch outing. He started strong, catching Allen Cordoba swinging on a 1-2 count to start the game and keeping the game scoreless until Ryan Schimpf unleashed a home run in the fourth inning. That was the first and final run the Padres managed off of Scherzer, who retired 14 consecutive batters following the blast and came one out shy of a complete game in the ninth inning. (Fittingly, Koda Glover polished off the win with a final strikeout, bringing the total to 14 on the night.)

It’ll take more than one stellar start to advance Scherzer and Kershaw on the all-time list, however. Their 53-game record ranks 13th, about 159 games behind second-place Hall of Fame hurler Randy Johnson and a full 162 games shy of the inimitable Nolan Ryan.