Blue Jays place Ben Francisco on DL, call up David Cooper

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Ben Francisco exited yesterday’s game with a strained hamstring and today the Blue Jays placed him on the disabled list while recalling first baseman David Cooper from Triple-A.

Francisco has played sparingly for the Blue Jays, getting most of his starts versus left-handed pitching and hitting just .206 with a .535 OPS in 37 plate appearances.

Cooper has impressive Triple-A numbers, batting .347 with more walks (89) than strikeouts (62) in 162 total games there dating back to last season, but Las Vegas is an extremely hitter-friendly environment and his lofty average comes with just 15 homers in 730 plate appearances.

He’s also 25 years old, has never played a position other than first base, and struggled in 27 games for the Blue Jays last season. He could get an extended look at first base following Adam Lind’s demotion to the minors last week, although that would involve manager John Farrell having to juggle the rest of the lineup a bit.

Nationals to reinstate Max Scherzer on Thursday

Max Scherzer
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Some good news for the Nationals today: All-Star hurler Max Scherzer is due back from the injured list this week, this time (hopefully) for good. He’s slated to start during Thursday’s series finale against the Pirates.

It’s been a long road back for the right-hander, who earned his seventh consecutive All-Star designation after heading into the break with a 2.30 ERA, 5.6 fWAR, and a league-leading 7.56 SO/BB rate. An untimely back injury forced him to the injured list in the days leading up to the All-Star Game, however, and he hasn’t returned in any kind of part-time or full-time capacity since.

While Scherzer was originally expected to pitch for the Nationals sometime during their weekend series versus the Brewers, manager Dave Martinez elected to push back his return date by a few days. It’s not clear whether he felt some lingering pain during his 64-pitch simulated start on Saturday or whether the Nationals simply want to play it safe with their ace, but either way, the club apparently feels like Scherzer will be back to full strength before the end of the week.

If so, his return would be a significant asset to the Nationals, who could use a sub-3.00 ERA, 5.0-fWAR starter to help bolster their standing in the NL East. Still, there’s no guarantee that the veteran righty is ready to shoulder a full-time role in Washington’s rotation, nor is it certain that he’ll be able to match his results from the first half of the season. In one start between IL stints last month, he dealt five innings of three-run, two-walk, eight-strikeout ball in an 8-7 loss to the Rockies.