The Nationals are still in the mix for Carl Pavano

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The Cubs and Rangers may have jumped ahead of the Nationals for Brandon Webb, but Bill Ladson of MLB.com reports that the club remains interested in Carl Pavano.

Pavano, who turns 35 in January, is considered by many to be the best free agent starting pitcher left on the market. He went 17-11 with a 3.75 ERA and 117/37 K/BB ratio over 32 starts with the Twins this past season, topping 200 innings for the first time since he won 18 games in 2004.

Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com opined yesterday that the Twins regained some leverage in their efforts to re-sign Pavano after Zack Greinke was traded to the Brewers (a potential suitor), but it won’t be so easy as long as teams like the Nationals and Rangers are still looking for pitching. In fact, Ladson hears from a source that the Nats spoke with Pavano’s people just yesterday.

There has been a reluctance among teams to give Pavano more than two years thus far, and that makes sense given his injury history, but the first team willing to go three years at over $10 million per season will probably get him. As we have already learned this winter, don’t sleep on those Nats.

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.