The Royals sign Jeff Francis

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UPDATE: Jerry Crasnick reports that Francis will get a $2M base salary. He can make $2M more in incentives based on starts and innings pitched. Seems like a good deal. Especially considering that Brad Penny just got $3 million base, $3 million incentives.

9:40 AMJerry Crasnick just tweeted that the Royals have signed free agent starter Jeff Francis to a one-year deal, pending a physical.

This is a much-needed signing for the Royals, whose rotation is otherwise avert-your-eyes awful.  While no ace — his overall 2010 numbers amounted to a 5.00 ERA in 19 starts — Francis looked much better in the second half, gaining some velocity and otherwise shaking off the rust after missing all of 2009 with shoulder surgery.  He should be a quality mid-rotation kind of guy next year.

Which in Kansas City means that he should be a candidate for the Opening Day starter’s gig.

Max Scherzer, with broken nose, strikes out 10 Phillies over seven shutout innings

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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.