Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette believes that Pirates president Frank Coonelly doesn’t expect the club to deviate from their current plan, even as general manager Neal Huntington and manager John Russell enter the final year of their respective contracts:
1. Lame-duck years will not be regarded any differently by the
Pirates than any other years, and allowing someone to enter a lame-duck
year without an extension will not be seen as a lack of faith.
2. Coonelly would prefer that those under him never go into survival
mode and attempt short-term solutions that deviate from the team’s
overall plan. By not focusing on contract terms or arbitrary lame-duck
precedents, the concept goes, those involved are less inclined to
single out any year as one in which it would be OK to abandon the plan.
3. Coonelly displays a strong, genuine and unwavering confidence in Huntington and Russell.
Nationals starter Max Scherzer bunted a ball into his face during batting practice on Tuesday, breaking his nose in the process. He ended up with a gnarly looking shiner around his right eye, making him appear a bit like Terminator. Scherzer still took the ball to start the second game of Wednesday night’s doubleheader against the Phillies.
Despite the injury, Scherzer was incredibly effective, limiting the Phillies to four hits and two walks across seven shutout innings, striking out 10 batters in the process. He might even have had some extra adrenaline going, as he averaged 96.2 MPH on his fastball, his highest average fastball velocity in a game since September 2012, per MLB.com’s Jamal Collier. The Nationals provided Scherzer with just one run of support, coming on a Brian Dozier solo home run off of Jake Arrieta in the second inning, but it was enough.
Wander Suero worked a scoreless top of the eighth with a pair of strikeouts. Victor Robles added a solo homer off of Pat Neshek in the bottom half. Closer Sean Doolittle took over in the ninth, working a 1-2-3 frame to give the Nats their 2-0 victory.
Over his last six starts, Scherzer now has a 0.88 ERA with a 59/8 K/BB ratio across 41 innings. He has gone six innings, struck out at least nine batters, and held the opposition to two or fewer runs in each of those six starts.