Justin Upton missed two weeks with a sore shoulder, rejoined the lineup for three games, and is now sidelined again by the same injury. He’s missed five straight starts and interim manager Kirk Gibson indicated that Upton is not close to returning:
We’re not going to play him at this point. We’re going to make sure that he’s strong and right before we throw him back out there and have him get back to where he is or worse. He’s played 132 games this year and we want him to play more games than that. It gets more into, how do we keep him healthy? This has happened three years in a row. We’ve got to do some things differently, and a lot of that is up to him.
Upton is available to pinch-run and in fact came off the bench to steal a base Friday night, but we’re at the point in the season where non-contending teams pushing star players to come back from injuries just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
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.