It’s been a rough go for closers in 2012

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Opening Day isn’t even over yet — only 13 games are in the books as of this writing — yet we’ve already seen three blown saves, two from very unlikely sources. The joke yesterday that this might be The Year of the Pitcher again. It doesn’t, however, look like it will be The Year of the Closer.

Let’s run it down:

NY Yankees: Mariano Rivera – future HOF takes blown save, loss in debut
Detroit: Jose Valverde – After going 49-for-49 in 2011, blows save in opener
Cleveland: Chris Perez – Blows three-run lead in ninth, Indians lose in 16
Chi Cubs: Carlos Marmol – Lost opener after entering tie game

And, of course, one-sixth of baseball’s closers are currently on the disabled list:

Boston: Andrew Bailey (thumb surgery, out 3-5 months)
Cincinnati: Ryan Madson (Tommy John surgery, out for season)
Kansas City: Joakim Soria (Tommy John surgery, out for season)
Tampa Bay: Kyle Farnsworth (elbow strain, out 4-6 wks)
Washington: Drew Storen (sore elbow, out 2 weeks)

So, maybe the eighth inning is a lot easier after all. Unless you’re Kerry Wood.

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.