Zimmermann set to return to Nationals' rotation Thursday

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The Nationals are going to have to shut Stephen Strasburg down for the next few weeks, if not the rest of the season, due to a strained flexor tendon in his right forearm.  It’s disappointing news because the young ace is incredible to watch, but there is a bright side.

Replacing Strasburg in the Nats’ starting rotation will be 24-year-old Jordan Zimmermann, who missed parts of 2009 and has missed all of 2010 due to Tommy John surgery.  Now healthy, and with 10 solid rehab appearances under his belt, the right-hander is all set to return on Thursday against the Cardinals.  This according to MLB.com’s Bill Ladson.

Zimmermann made a name for himself one year ago when he opened the ’09 season with 92 strikeouts over his first 91.1 major league innings.  He also compiled a respectable 4.36 ERA and 1.36 WHIP over that span.

The righty is throwing with good velocity and movement yet again and should do well upon returning to the big leagues.  Even if he falters, Zimmermann and Strasburg will lead a much-improved Washington rotation heading into 2011.

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.