Hoping to avoid surgery, Nathan will 'test' injured elbow Saturday

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Joe Nathan is still likely headed for season-ending Tommy John surgery, but Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that the Twins’ closer will give his injured elbow “a vigorous test” by playing catch Saturday.
Complicating matters is that Nathan was “bedridden Saturday and Sunday with a virus and still had a sore throat Monday.” The larger issue, of course, is his torn ulnar collateral ligament, which few pitchers have ever been able to pitch through. However, given that he’d likely be sidelined for at least 12 months following surgery Nathan sees no harm in trying anything possible to avoid going under the knife:

When I feel loose, if I do get loose, I definitely want to test this thing as much as I can for Day 1 and see how it feels. This is going to be something where there shouldn’t be a gray area. It’s going to be I feel great, or this just isn’t me, this doesn’t feel right.



Whatever happens in my career, I tell everybody you’ve gotta look at the bright side. For me, if the worst-case does happen, I see it as a chance to prolong my career. I see it as a chance to give myself a new arm and pitch for another five years after this. That’s the worst-case scenario for me, coming back in 2011 with a brand new arm.

While visiting Twins camp last week Craig saw first-hand how well Nathan handled news of the injury and looking at the bright side is always a good approach, but in reality “the worst-case scenario” isn’t “coming back in 2011 with a brand new arm.” The worst-case scenario for a 35-year-old who undergoes Tommy John surgery is never pitching again and even if things go reasonably well in his recovery missing a big chunk of 2011 is a strong possibility.

Battle of the Aces: Max Scherzer takes on Clayton Kershaw tonight

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I hope you don’t have any plans tonight at around 10PM Eastern time, because that’s when we get a pitching matchup for the ages as Max Scherzer will take on Clayton Kershaw at Dodger Stadium. When they meet tonight it will be the first time two pitchers with three or more Cy Young Awards have matched up since 2006. That year, and in 2005 and 2000, Roger Clemens faced Greg Maddux. In 2001 Clemens faced Pedro Martinez.

Kershaw won his hardware in 2011, 2013 and 2014, with an MVP award in 2014 to boot. Scherzer collected trophies in 2013, 2016 and 2017. Each has started the 2018 season in Cy Young form. Kershaw is 1-2, but that record is due to poor run support. He has a 1.73 ERA and has struck out 31 batters and has walked only three in 26 innings. Scherzer is 3-1 with a 1.33 ERA and a whopping 38 strikeouts to only 4 walks in 27 innings.

This will be the third time that Kershaw and Scherzer faced each other if you include the playoffs. The first meeting was a decade ago when both were rookies. They most recently faced off in Game 1 of the 2016 NLDS, way back when Scherzer only had one Cy Young Award to his credit. Kershaw beat Scherzer in that playoff game and the Dodgers beat Scherzer’s teams in the two regular season matchups, with neither guy setting the world on fire. As so often happens in baseball, the hype hasn’t been matched by reality.

Still, there’s always a chance it will. And even if, in the end, this turns into a slugfest, the first couple of innings should at least give us some hope of something good. I’ll be watching.