The Astros would prefer to keep shortstop Jed Lowrie, but Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports hears that they are willing to listen to offers for right-hander Bud Norris. The Royals are among the clubs who have inquired on Norris and they are also looking at free agent right-hander Shaun Marcum as they continue to look for ways to upgrade their rotation.
Norris, who turns 28 in March, posted a 4.65 ERA and 165/66 K/BB ratio over 168 1/3 innings this past season. While it was a disappointing showing after he had a 3.77 ERA in 2011, his peripherals were virtually the same. Norris is arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter, so the timing makes sense to see what’s out there.
The belief around the league is that the trade market for pitchers could get some more clarity once teams know where Zack Greinke is headed. While the Royals have called on Norris, they would reportedly prefer to land a big-name starting pitcher like James Shields or R.A. Dickey.
For the second year in a row, the All-Star Game will feature a starting pitching matchup of Chris Sale vs. Max Scherzer. The two were just announced at a press conference at Nationals Park.
This, in fact, will be Sale’s third straight start of the Midsummer Classic, as he faced off against Johnny Cueto of the National League in 2016. It’s Scherzer’s third start in an All-Star Game overall, as he got the starting nod for the American League back in 2013 against Matt Harvey.
Sale is 10-4 with a 2.23 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 188/31 in 129 inning pitched. He leads the American League in ERA, strikeouts and strikeouts per nine innings pitched, with 13.1.
Scherzer is 12-5 with a 2.41 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 182/34 in 134.2 innings pitched. He leads the National League in wins, complete games, shutouts, strikeouts, innings, batters faced, WHIP, hits per nine innings allowed and strikeouts per nine innings pitched.
Because it’s the All-Star Game neither will notch a win, even if one could get a loss. Still, it’s a matchup of the two best pitchers going in 2018 and, with a tip of the cap to Clayton Kershaw, the two best starting pitchers of this era.