Amaro thinking Chase Utley might be ready by end of May

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The Phillies still aren’t putting an official timetable on Chase Utley’s rehabilitation from patellar tendinitis, but general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. did offer some optimism on Saturday evening.

According to Todd Zolecki of MLB.com, Amaro told reporters on Saturday afternoon that he’s hopeful Utley will be ready to return to the Phillies’ starting lineup before the end of May.

Utley was cleared to begin a running program only nine days ago and has already progressed to straight-line sprints. He has also been participating in light fielding drills and has avoided setbacks to this point.

The Phillies have been using Wilson Valdez primarily at second base since the regular season began. He got off to a hot start but has just one hit in his last 16 at-bats and is down to a .264/.316/.321 batting line.

Max Scherzer reaches 300 strikeouts on the season

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Nationals ace Max Scherzer struck out his 300th batter of the season on Tuesday night against the Marlins. Austin Dean was the victim, swinging and missing at a 3-2 curve for the second out in the seventh inning.

Scherzer’s 2018 is the seventh 300-strikeout season since 2000. The others: Chris Sale (308; 2017 Red Sox), Clayton Kershaw (301; 2015 Dodgers), Randy Johnson (334; 2002 Diamondbacks), Curt Schilling (316; 2002 Diamondbacks), Randy Johnson (372; 2001 Diamondbacks), Randy Johnson (347; 2000 Diamondbacks). It’s the 67th 300-strikeout season dating back to 1883.

At the conclusion of the seventh, Scherzer had held the Marlins to a run on four hits with no walks and 10 strikeouts. He entered the start 17-7 with a 2.57 ERA across 213 2/3 innings. Jacob deGrom will almost certainly win the NL Cy Young Award, but Scherzer’s 2018 has been outstanding.