It’s been just a little more than 12 hours since Max Scherzer and Clayton Kershaw were named Cy Young Award winners. But we’re already turning to the next chapter in their stories: where they’ll be long term.
Following some speculation that the Tigers could seek to trade Scherzer, who has a year left on his current deal, MLB.com’s Jason Beck reports that Scherzer is open to a contract extension with the Tigers.
“I am open (to a new deal),” Scherzer said. “I realize I’ve got a good situation here in Detroit. But it also takes two to dance … I don’t have any [anxiety] to get anything done, but if something does get done, I’d be happy to do it.”
It’s not entirely clear what kind of deal Scherzer could command. Given his steady improvement over the past two and a half seasons you can’t call his 2013 a fluke, but I don’t feel like there’s a consensus as to whether he is coming off a decided peak career year and will return to being merely good or if he’s now on a nice plateau where he can be expected to be an elite starter for 3-4 more seasons. Dave Dombrowski has to figure that out and the process of figuring that out is what will determine whether Scherzer is dangled or locked up.
Clayton Kershaw is less of an uncertainty. He’s now got two Cy Young Awards and a second placy Cy Young finish in the past three seasons, is three years younger than Scherzer and, barring injury, is clearly a guy who is beginning to put together the peak seasons of a Hall of Famer. As a result of that, he seems far more philosophical about inking a long term deal now:
It was reported in October that the Dodgers had offered Kershaw a $300 million extension during the season or, at the very least, had begun discussions in that direction. That he can look at that and still talk about just having one year ahead of him is pretty close to the dictionary definition of the word “cool.” Whatever the case, though, whether it’s the Dodgers or someone else, Kershaw is going to get a record deal for a pitcher when it’s all said and done.
Two Cy Young award winners who, in the next year or so, could have different addresses. Gentlemen: open your wallets.
Angels’ right-handed reliever Bud Norris made his 23rd appearance of the season on Friday, and after just three pitches, he was done for the night. He worked a 2-1 count to Marlins’ Dee Gordon in the eighth inning, then promptly exited the field after experiencing some tightness in his right knee. Neither Norris nor manager Mike Scioscia believe the injury is cause for major concern, and the 32-year-old right-hander admitted that it may have had something to do with his lack of stretching before he took the mound. For now, he’s day-to-day with right knee soreness, with the hope that the issue doesn’t escalate over the next few days.
While the Angels are lucky to have avoided serious injury, they’ll need Norris to pitch at 100% if they want to stay competitive within the AL West. They currently sit a full nine games behind the league-leading Astros, and haven’t been helping their cause after taking five losses in their last eight games. Friday’s 8-5 finale marked their third consecutive loss of the week.
When healthy, Norris has been one of the better arms in the Angels’ bullpen. Through 23 2/3 innings, he’s pitched to a 2.66 ERA, 3.4 BB/9 and an outstanding 11.8 SO/9 in 23 outings. The righty hasn’t allowed a single run in four straight appearances, recording three saves and helping the club clinch four wins in that span. This is his second setback of the year after sustaining a partial fingernail tear on his pitching hand during spring training.
Max Scherzer is a force to be reckoned with. The Nationals’ right-hander delivered a season-high 13 strikeouts against the Padres on Friday, locking down his fifth win and his fourth double-digit strikeout performance of the year.
More remarkably, it was also the 53rd double-digit strikeout performance of Scherzer’s career, tying Clayton Kershaw for the most 10+ strikeout appearances by an active major league pitcher. Chris Sale is a distant third, with 43 to his name, though he’s been making considerable strides to catch up so far this spring.
Scherzer took the Padres to task on Friday night, whiffing 13 of 31 batters during his 108-pitch outing. He started strong, catching Allen Cordoba swinging on a 1-2 count to start the game and keeping the game scoreless until Ryan Schimpf unleashed a home run in the fourth inning. That was the first and final run the Padres managed off of Scherzer, who retired 14 consecutive batters following the blast and came one out shy of a complete game in the ninth inning. (Fittingly, Koda Glover polished off the win with a final strikeout, bringing the total to 14 on the night.)
It’ll take more than one stellar start to advance Scherzer and Kershaw on the all-time list, however. Their 53-game record ranks 13th, about 159 games behind second-place Hall of Fame hurler Randy Johnson and a full 162 games shy of the inimitable Nolan Ryan.