Twins “working on new deal” with Scott Baker

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Two months ago Scott Baker said he’d like to remain in Minnesota after missing this season following Tommy John elbow surgery and yesterday during a radio interview with 1500-ESPN general manager Terry Ryan made it clear that the Twins are interested in keeping him around.

Baker has a $9 million option for 2013 that’s certain to be declined, making the 31-year-old right-hander a free agent, but Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN.com reports that the two sides are “working now on a new deal” and talked to a team source who says re-signing Baker is a “high priority.”

An incentive-laden one-year deal would make sense given that Baker is no sure thing to be ready by Opening Day and the Twins are basically rebuilding their entire rotation. When healthy he’s been a solid mid-rotation starter, posting a 3.98 ERA in 821 innings since 2007 while consistently ranking among the league leaders in strikeout-to-walk ratio, but even before the surgery his durability was often in question.

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.