Schneider jumps from Mets to hometown Phillies

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Brian Schneider has been a starter for basically his entire career, but the 33-year-old catcher will now back up Carlos Ruiz after signing a two-year contract with the Phillies this afternoon.
While one Philadelphia newspaper suggests that Schneider passed up a chance to start for several other teams in order to join his hometown Phillies, that seems fairly unlikely. Instead, my guess is that the best he could do elsewhere was a promise that he’d compete for a starting job with a younger catcher and rather than do that for a lesser team he decided to join the back-to-back NL champs and the team he grew up rooting for.
After all, Ruiz has started 100, 92, and 100 games in the past three seasons, is coming off a career-best .255/.355/.425 performance in the regular season, and batted .341 in the playoffs, so the Phillies probably aren’t looking to reduce his role. Instead, expect the left-handed-hitting Schneider to draw 40-50 starts while primarily giving the right-handed-hitting Ruiz breaks against tougher right-handed pitchers. It should be an effective quasi-platoon.
Philadelphia definitely didn’t need a veteran backup like Schneider, but the Phillies are strong enough up and down the roster that tinkering at the margins while paying a premium for depth makes sense. Meanwhile, the Mets never had any intention of re-signing Schneider and interestingly are close to signing Chris Coste, who spent most of the past four seasons backing up Ruiz for the Phillies. Musical catchers. New York is also said to be in the mix for Henry Blanco, and still has Omar Santos and Josh Thole as in-house options.

Albert Pujols is eighth on the all-time home run list

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Albert Pujols kicked things off for the Angels in dramatic fashion on Friday night, cranking a two-RBI home run off of the Orioles’ Jeremy Hellickson to give the club an early lead in the first inning. The 350-footer was his 18th home run of the year and No. 609 in his 17-season career, tying Sammy Sosa on the all-time home run list for eighth overall and most home runs hit by a player born outside of the United States.

With the home run, Pujols sits just three homers shy of tying Jim Thome’s 612-home run record for seventh on the all-time list. That figures to be the last major milestone still ahead of the designated hitter this season, with Ken Griffey Jr.’s 630-home run mark still a distant 21 blasts away.

The Angels, meanwhile, ran with Pujols’ lead, collecting home runs from Kole Calhoun, C.J. Cron, Kaleb Cowart and Mike Trout. It wasn’t quite enough to quash the Orioles, however, who surged to a 9-7 finale after Manny Machado went 3-for-5 with three home runs and struck a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the ninth.

Nationals place Max Scherzer on 10-day disabled list with neck inflammation

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The Nationals placed right-hander Max Scherzer on the 10-day disabled list with left neck inflammation, the team announced Friday. Scherzer was scratched from his scheduled start against the Padres and replaced by left-hander Matt Grace, though an official roster move has yet to be made to fill his spot on the roster. The assignment is retroactive to August 15.

Scherzer experienced a similar pain on the right side of his neck at the start of the month, though this is the first official stint he’ll serve on the disabled list in 2017. While comments from club manager Dusty Baker suggest that the injury wasn’t caused by any particular trauma, it seems likely that the ace right-hander will be sidelined for at least one more start.

It’s a terrible time to lose a star pitcher, especially with the Nationals positioned to make a deep run in the postseason, but their 14-game cushion in the NL East should buy them some time while Scherzer’s on the mend. Prior to his bout of inflammation, the 33-year-old looked remarkably healthy this season. He pitched through his fifth consecutive All-Star campaign and currently boasts a 12-5 record in 24 starts, complete with a 2.25 ERA (good for second-best among qualified starters), 2.2 BB/9 and 12.3 SO/9 in 160 1/3 innings.