After more than a month of continued symptoms and multiple setbacks the Twins have shut down Joe Mauer for the season due to the concussion he suffered on August 19.
General manager Terry Ryan told reporters today that Mauer has been making progress recently and the shut down wasn’t caused by a setback, but with only a week remaining in the season the Twins simply felt there was no point to bringing him back.
As a Twins fan that makes plenty of sense to me, although unfortunately as the team learned from Justin Morneau’s concussion comeback a few years ago taking an entire offseason to rest doesn’t necessarily mean the symptoms won’t return once the baseball activities start up again.
Mauer was having one of his typical seasons before the brain injury, hitting hitting .324 in 113 games and throwing out 43 percent of steal attempts. In his absence Josmil Pinto and Chris Herrmann have been splitting time behind the plate and Mauer’s future position defensively will be an offseason-long topic of debate in Minnesota.
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.