Max Scherzer takes over major league lead in strikeouts

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It’ll be a short-lived lead, but Max Scherzer fanned 10 Twins over seven shutout innings Wednesday to move past teammate Justin Verlander for the major league lead with 178 strikeouts. He’s gotten there in just 140 2/3 innings, while Verlander has racked up his 174 strikeouts in 175 2/3 innings.

If Scherzer maintains his current pace, he’d finish with the season with the highest strikeout rate for a starting pitcher since Randy Johnson in 2002.

Here’s the top 10 in strikeouts per nine innings since 2000. I’m using a minimum of 162 innings:

13.41 – Randy Johnson (2001 Diamondbacks)
12.56 – Randy Johnson (2000 Diamondbacks)
11.78 – Pedro Martinez (2000 Red Sox)
11.56 – Randy Johnson (2002 Diamondbacks)
11.35 – Kerry Wood (2003 Cubs)
11.20 – Kerry Wood (2001 Cubs)
10.97 – Oliver Perez (2004 Pirates)
10.97 – Curt Schilling (2002 Diamondbacks)
10.93 – Erik Bedard (2007 Orioles)
10.79 – Pedro Martinez (2002 Red S0x)

Scherzer is currently at 11.39 K/9 IP with 22 more innings needed to qualify for the list. Of course, I should also note that the mark is barely the best in the majors this year: Stephen Strasburg entered his start Wednesday with 166 strikeouts in 133 1/3 innings, good for 11.21 K/9 IP. Yu Darvish is also at 10.36 this year, with 162 strikeouts in 140 2/3 innings.

Rafael Devers won’t visit White House with Red Sox

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The World Series champion Red Sox are scheduled to visit President Trump in the White House on February 15. Some have speculated that manager Álex Cora, who is from Puerto Rico and has been critical of Trump and has been a big factor in Hurricane Maria relief efforts, might not go as a form of protest. Thus far, nothing concrete has been reported on that front.

However, third baseman Rafael Devers says he isn’t going to join the Red Sox on their visit to the White House, Evan Drellich of NBC Sports Boston reports. Devers would prefer to focus on baseball, as the Red Sox open spring training on February 13 and position players have to report on February 17. Per Chris Mason, Devers also said via a translator, “The opportunity was presented and I just wasn’t compelled to go.”

Devers hails from the Dominican Republic and he, like many of Major League Baseball’s foreign-born player base, might not be happy about Trump’s immigration policies. Understandably, he is being tight-lipped about his motivation, but it wouldn’t be surprising if Devers is making a silent protest by choosing not to attend. He is thus far the only member of the team to bow out.

Devers, 22, hit .240/.298/.433 with 21 home runs, 66 RBI, and 59 runs scored in 490 plate appearances last season.

Last year, when the Astros visited Trump at the White House, they did so without Carlos Correa and Carlos Beltrán. Both are from Puerto Rico. It is certainly not unprecedented for individual players to opt out of the White House visit.

No word yet on what food will be served during Boston’s trip to the nation’s capital, but the smart money is on hamberders.