Marlins ace Josh Johnson still hoping to pitch again this year

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Josh Johnson still hasn’t ruled out pitching again this season despite missing the past three months with a shoulder injury that the Marlins continue to describe as merely inflammation.

General manager Mike Hill told Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald that Johnson is “hopeful that he’ll start his throwing program this week” with an eye toward coming off the disabled list for some September appearances.

Before that can happen Johnson would have to avoid setbacks while playing long-toss, throw “at least three” bullpen sessions, complete a simulated game, and then make 2-3 rehab starts in the minors.

Considering he hasn’t pitched in nearly three months and had to shut down his last throwing program because of pain in June the odds are stacked against seeing Johnson again before 2012, but the fact that he hasn’t totally ruled out a 2011 return is the first good news on the Marlins ace in quite a while.

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.