Scott Baker to begin minor league rehab assignment Sunday

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When the Cubs signed right-hander Scott Baker to a one-year, $5.5 million contract over the winter, they were hoping that he would be fully recovered from Tommy John surgery by the early part of April. It didn’t turn out that way, as he suffered a setback with his elbow during his first Cactus League start and has yet to throw a pitch for the club this year. However, he could contribute soon.

According to Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com, Baker will begin a minor league rehab assignment Sunday with Low-A Lake County. Pitchers are permitted to spend 30 days on a rehab assignment and Baker figures to need most of it in order to get stretched out, but he could be an option for the Cubs’ rotation by mid-August if all goes well.

Baker, who had Tommy John surgery last April, owns a 4.15 ERA over 958 innings in the majors. While it has been a lost season until this point, the 31-year-old could head into free agency on a positive note.

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.