Some positivity for the non-contenders

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bluejays_090923.jpgIt’s so easy to get down this time of year. The weather is getting chilly, it’s not staying light out as late, and if your team isn’t in playoff contention – and in this dullest of September stretch runs, you pretty much know by now – the final days of the season can be quite a chore.

But it doesn’t have to be, because baseball is all about hope. Hope that a certain veteran might reach the obscure milestone that no one cares about but he. Hope that the late-season call-up will show you some flashes of greatness. Hope that if you’re not going to win this year, there’s always the next.

So to all you fans out there following an also-ran club, this one’s for you. A quick scan around the blogosphere reveals plenty of things for you to be positive about:

— In Milwaukee they may not have the playoffs to look forward to, but they’ll always have beer. And they really, really love their beer. [Miller Park Drunk]

— It’s celebration time in Toronto, where the Blue Jays have just clinched fourth place in the AL East. They should send a thank-you note to the Orioles. [The Tao of Stieb]

— In Chicago, Milton Bradley has apologized for the heap of misery he brought on his team and its fans. So what if the players learned about it by seeing the statement handed out to the media? What do you want from him, people? [Carrie Muskat via Twitter]

— Not sure who out there thinks Zack Greinke doesn’t deserve the Cy Young, but in Kansas City, they’re still stumping hard for him. [Ball Star]

— Rajai Davis has people downright giddy in Oakland. Now if they can just find some power. [Athletics Nation]

— If you can’t win in Cleveland, at least you can dominate the Eastern League. Nothing wrong with that, folks. [Waiting for Next Year]

— In Seattle, they’re marveling at Jose Lopez’s ability to hit at least 25 home runs and walk fewer than 25 times. It’s cool that guys like Joe DiMaggio and Albert Belle are also on the list. Not so cool that Jeff Francoeur and Marcus Thames are also on it. [U.S.S. Mariner]

— In New York, they’re celebrating that the Mets came up short in their quest to break the record for fewest home runs. That’s something, at least. [NYT Bats blog]

— And last but not least, they may not have much of a team in Cincinnati, but when it comes to goggles, no one tops their own Chris Sabo. [OMGReds]

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.

Twins’ top prospect Nick Burdi will undergo Tommy John surgery

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Twins’ right-hander Nick Burdi is set to undergo Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, the team announced on Friday. Burdi made 14 appearances for Double-A Chattanooga before succumbing to a torn ulnar collateral ligament and is not expected to make his major league debut until mid-2018 at the earliest. A UCL tear doesn’t always require Tommy John surgery — less severe cases can be treated with platelet-rich plasma injections, for example — but Twins’ chief baseball officer Derek Falvey told the press that surgery was unavoidable as Burdi had sustained a “full thickness tear” in his elbow.

Entering the 2016 season, Burdi was widely considered a top ten prospect in the Twins’ system. His exceptional velocity and potent fastball-slider combo made him a fearsome relief option as he came off of his first season in Double-A Chattanooga in 2015. During the 2016 season, however, the 24-year-old experienced a significant setback after a bone bruise cut his season short in late July. Prior to Friday’s diagnosis, he appeared to be staging an impressive comeback with the Chattanooga Lookouts this spring, decorating his efforts with a sparkling 0.53 ERA, 2.1 BB/9 and 10.6 SO/9 over 17 innings.

It’s a tough break for the Twins, whose farm system was ranked 21st in the league by Baseball America. “Obviously he’s proven when he’s healthy he’s an absolute premium prospect, and the Twins are treating him that way,” Burdi’s agent, Matt Sosnick, told Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press. “We just want to make sure everything we do ultimately leads to the goal of getting him back on the field as quickly as he can.”