The Orioles finally pulled the trigger and rid themselves of Garrett Atkins on Sunday, designating him for assignment to clear 25-man roster space for now-healthy reliever Koji Uehara. This via Britt Ghiroli of MLB.com.
Atkins had played in just six of the Orioles’ last 23 games, so the dump should come as no surprise.
The 30-year-old corner infielder was batting just .219/.282/.292 with one home run in 149 plate appearances. He signed a one-year, $4.5 million contract this offseason and the O’s will almost certainly have to eat all of that unless another team is crazy enough to step forward and take him on.
Atkins is likely to find a chance with another club once the O’s release him, but a change of scenery probably won’t cure much. He has regressed steadily since posting a .329/.409/.556 batting line, 29 home runs, 117 runs and 120 RBI in 2006. And he has never been much of a defender.
Last year he batted .226/.308/.342 in 399 plate appearances for the Rockies, so one could argue that the Orioles should have never handed him a contract in the first place. OK, we can all argue that.
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.