Yuniesky Betancourt and the Royals, together again

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In a hilarious yet oddly predictable reunion the Royals have signed Yuniesky Betancourt to a one-year deal.

Betancourt was Kansas City’s starting shortstop for the second half of 2009 and all of 2010, but was traded to Milwaukee as part of the Zack Greinke blockbuster and had a terrible season for the Brewers.

Now he returns to Kansas City as a utility infielder who’ll be asked to push/motivate/make look good by comparison the young shortstop the Royals received as part of the Greinke swap, Alcides Escobar.

Betancourt is no longer much of a shortstop defensively and posted a laughably awful .271 on-base percentage in 152 games for the Brewers, but Escobar wasn’t any better at the plate in 2011 and as general manager Dayton Moore explained in announcing the signing: “He brings a right-handed bat with some power and is a guy we know fits in well in the clubhouse.”

Or something. I hope they’re happy together. Again.

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.