Max Scherzer is trying to crash the aces-only party for MLB strikeout leaders

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Usually the MLB strikeout leader is a big-name, Cy Young-caliber pitcher.

In fact, every single MLB strikeout leader during the past 20 years fits that description:

Randy Johnson (nine times)
Johan Santana (two times)
Justin Verlander (two times)
Curt Schilling (two times)
Jered Weaver
Tim Lincecum
Jake Peavy
Kerry Wood
John Smoltz

You get the idea.

If the season ended today Max Scherzer would be joining that amazing company, as the Tigers right-hander has an MLB-leading 186 strikeouts to go along with a pedestrian 4.41 ERA. In terms of raw stuff Scherzer has always seemed like a potential ace, but he’s 27 years old with a 4.01 career ERA and would obviously stick out from the above list like a sore thumb.

Stephen Strasburg trails Scherzer for the MLB strikeout lead 186-to-183 and would certainly fit in better with that group, but the Nationals’ plan to limit his workload down the stretch will make it very tough for Strasburg to overtake Scherzer.

However, next up on this year’s leaderboard are R.A. Dickey (181), Justin Verlander (180), Felix Hernandez (179), and Clayton Kershaw (175). So if Scherzer is going to win the strikeout title and crash the big-name party he’s going to have to hold off a bunch of big names to do it.

Reds ink Oliver Perez to a minor-league deal

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The Reds have signed free agent reliever Oliver Perez to a minor-league contract, the team announced Saturday. The deal comes with a major-league invite and could be worth $1.25 million if Perez secures a roster spot this spring, with an additional $500,000 in potential performance bonuses.

Perez, 36, is coming off of a two-year run with the Nationals. He produced a 4.64 ERA, 3.3 BB/9 an d10.6 SO/9 through 50 relief appearances and 33 innings with the club in 2017. The veteran lefty hasn’t kept an ERA under 4.00 in at least four seasons, but he continues to be undeniably solid against left-handed batters, holding them to a .227/.301/.364 batting line over 18 1/3 innings last year.

While returning southpaw Wandy Peralta appears to have locked down a bullpen spot already, Perez will still compete for another role against fellow left-handers Cody Reed and Amir Garrett, both of whom also have experience in the rotation. If Perez doesn’t break camp with the team, MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon notes, he’ll be permitted to opt out of his contract. The Reds are currently looking to bounce back from a dismal performance in 2017, one in which their bullpen ranked 28th among major league teams with a collective 5.63 ERA and -1.2 fWAR.