Is it good form for a player to publicly question his manager’s lineup? Nope. Not at all. But Bryce Harper did it and, for the most part, was criticized in a proportionate manner. And of course the Nats are winning right now, so that makes things better.
Still, I feel like we’re going to be seeing hot takes about Harper not knowing his place for a while. Jason Reid of the Washington Post has one today. A few days after the fact, of course. And, more importantly, a few days after the Harper-Williams tiff — to the extent you can call it a tiff — had been resolved. If you don’t believe me, read Adam Kilgore’s story from the same Washington Post running Reid’s hot take:
The swirl of opinion and controversy crackled and hummed Tuesday afternoon, surfacing on television screens, blaring out of radios, murmuring in clubhouses across the league. While so many were talking about them, Bryce Harper and Matt Williams — the two figures at the center of the attention— sat down at Nationals Parks and talked to each other.
Kilgore — who, unlike Reid, covers the Nats on a daily basis — is the guy to go to for what’s actually going on. And to read his story is to realize that, an ill-advised comment notwithstanding, Williams and Harper are basically good with one another and the tiff, or whatever, is over.
At least with the people who matter. If the Nats do anything other than win the NL East and make a deep playoff run I presume some tourist who doesn’t cover the Nats that often will swoop in with some “the seeds of the Nationals’ failure were sewn back in late June . . .” take. Because that’s how this stuff usually works.
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.