Andy Pettitte unlikely to return before mid-September

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Andy Pettitte suffered a setback in his recovery from a strained groin while throwing a bullpen session Tuesday and an MRI exam taken afterward showed that the injury hasn’t healed as quickly as hoped.
Wallace Matthews of ESPNNewYork.com reports that he “will not be ready to return to the mound until the first week of September at the earliest, and more likely the middle of the month.”
Here’s how Pettitte described the situation:

When I tried to go, to throw like I was trying to get a batter out, it would grab me. I felt actually like I was being a weenie out there, like I could pitch through this. To say I’m frustrated, that’s an understatement. I’m trying to stay as positive as I can, but I want to pitch. I just want to get back and I want to pitch and I want to be healthy.

Matthews writes that Pettitte “blamed himself for pushing too hard in attempting to come back sooner than expected” and suggests that the 38-year-old left-hander “might not be able to pitch again this season.” And even if he does make it back with a week or two remaining on the schedule, being at full strength for the playoffs is obviously no sure thing.

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.