What is it with mediocre managers putting individual player stats above all else these days? First we had Jerry Manuel killing Jon Niese’s arm in order to try and get him a win, now we have Ken Macha saying
yesterday that he may slide Trevor Hoffman back into the closer’s role. Why? “I’d certainly like Trevor to reach his goal of getting 600 . . . We’d like to get that done for him.” Mercy.
OK, maybe that’s not 100% of the reason. Macha notes that Hoffman has had several good outings in a row now, pitching mostly in the seventh and eighth innings. Which he has. But at the same time John Axford has struck out 21 batters in 18 innings and is perfect in save opportunities since taking over the role, including a two-inning save last night.
Rather than give your Established Closer his milestone, maybe you stick what’s working? Especially given that (a) so much isn’t working for the Brewers these days; and (b) Trevor Hoffman closing over the first couple months of the season made grown men cry.
Put more simply, the back end of the Brewers’ bullpen is one thing about the team that ain’t broke at the moment, Ken Macha, so why are you even thinking about fixing it?
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.