Last week Max Scherzer pitched with a heavy heart, starting a game three days after his brother’s death, but now the Tigers right-hander will miss at least one turn in the rotation with a hamstring injury.
Scherzer was scheduled to start today versus Minnesota, but Duane Below will make the start instead. General manager Dave Dombrowski told Anthony Odoard of MLB.com that the Tigers “have confidence” that Scherzer will remain on the active roster and start Sunday.
He apparently suffered the injury while doing some between-starts running and wasn’t happy with how it felt when testing it with a bullpen session yesterday.
Scherzer leads the American League with 11.4 strikeouts per nine innings, but for the second straight season he’s allowed opponents to bat above .270 with a disappointing ERA (4.98). He has been much improved since a brutal April, posting a 3.95 ERA and 87/19 K/BB ratio in 66 innings since May 1.
MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the Orioles have interest in free agent right-hander Alex Cobb, who rejected his one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Rays earlier this week. Cobb was most recently linked to the Cubs, who reportedly reached out to his agent during the GM Meetings and garnered mutual interest from the righty, but nothing appears to be set in stone yet.
Cobb, 30, completed his sixth season with the Rays in 2017. He went 12-10 in 29 starts and turned in a respectable 3.66 ERA, 6.4 SO/9 and career-best 2.2 BB/9 in 179 1/3 innings. Despite losing a couple of weeks to turf toe, he remained healthy for most of the year and showed no signs of the elbow issues that robbed him of the majority of his 2015-2016 campaigns.
It’s still fairly early for any deals to come to fruition, but Morosi notes that the Orioles seem to be focused on bulking up their rotation during the first few months of the offseason. It’ll take more than a healthy Alex Cobb to right that ship, however: Orioles’ starters earned a collective 5.70 ERA and 5.5 fWAR in 2017, good for worst and fourth-worst marks in the league, respectively. Behind Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy (and perhaps Gabriel Ynoa/Miguel Castro), they still need three viable starters to compete in 2018. Whether or not they can afford to spring for a single starter with Cobb’s price tag (four years, $48 million, per MLB Trade Rumors) remains to be seen.