Mariners center fielder Franklin Gutierrez likely done for season

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Franklin Gutierrez suffered an oblique strain during Sunday’s game and is expected to miss the rest of the year, says the Seattle Times’ Geoff Baker.

Gutierrez ends a disastrous season with a .224/.262/.273 line in 322 at-bats.  He missed the first seven weeks with a stomach condition that was eventually diagnosed as irritable bowel syndrome.  After debuting on May 18, he homered in his sixth game back, but then went the next three-plus months without one.  He drove in a total of 19 runs all season.

Regarded by some as the best defensive center fielder in baseball, Gutierrez was an All-Star-caliber performer when he hit .283/.339/.425 with 18 homers and 70 RBI in his first season in Seattle in 2009.  However, his OPS has dipped from .764 then to .666 in 2010 and .535 this year.  If not for the long-term deal he signed, he’d probably be a candidate to be non-tendered this winter.  Instead, he’s guaranteed $5.5 million in 2012 and $7 million in 2013.

An offseason spent working out and regaining strength could make Gutierrez a different player in 2012.  The Mariners have no choice but to hope that’s the case.  They do have center field alternatives in Casper Wells, Greg Halman and Michael Saunders, but it’s unlikely that any of them will ever be as valuable as Gutierrez was two years ago.

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.