Scott Baker’s ongoing recovery from Tommy John elbow surgery just got more complicated.
According to beat writer Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune, Baker was diagnosed Sunday by Cubs doctors with a muscle strain in his right elbow — the same elbow that was surgically-repaired last April.
Baker entered spring training hoping to crack the Cubs’ Opening Day rotation, but he began developing renewed elbow soreness pretty early on and will now be shut down for the next four weeks. If he’s lucky, he’ll be ready to go at some point in late July.
Baker signed a one-year, $5.5 million free agent contract with the Cubs this winter, which looked like a bargain at the time but is now trending in the direction of a bust. The 31-year-old right-hander owns a decent 4.15 career ERA and 1.26 career WHIP in 958 career major league innings.
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.