As far as baseball relevance goes, Andy LaRoche isn’t high on the list these days. It’s been years since he was a prospect. He turns 30 this year for Pete’s sake.
But I’m still fascinated by him, just as I’m fascinated by any guy who, for a time anyway, looked like a can’t-miss prospect. The guy has a line of .285/.372/.429 in the minors, and that was much higher back when he was on the cusp of the bigs. He looked like he was heading for great things.
What happened? Don’t know, but he’s had over 1,300 big league plate appearances to show something and he’s produced … nothing. One year in Pittsburgh of some promise, but nothing. He’s got a prime corner stool at the Quad-A Cafe with his name carved on it. When he walks in people yell “Andy!”
He’s getting another shot. He signed a minor league contract with the Blue Jays today. He probably won’t sniff the bigs given how loaded Toronto is for 2013, but it’s another chance. It’s too late to expect that he’ll ever fulfill that promise, but he’ll still be around, making people like me wonder whatever happened to it.
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.