Max Scherzer improves to 15-1 as Tigers embarrass Phillies

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Max Scherzer picked up his easiest W of the season as the Tigers rolled over the hapless Phillies 10-0 tonight at Comerica Park. With reliever Raul Valdes making a spot start in place of Cliff Lee, dealing with a stiff neck, the Tigers put up a five-spot in the first inning. Miguel Cabrera got the ball rolling with a solo home run, his 32nd of the season, and Matt Tuiasosopo added a gut punch with a three-run home run before Valdes could even break a sweat.

The Tigers added three more runs in the second on an RBI single by Cabrera and a two-run single by Victor Martinez. Extra runs were added in the fourth on a Cabrera ground out, and in the fifth on a Torii Hunter sacrifice fly.

Meanwhile, Scherzer limited a decimated Phillies lineup to one hit over six innings. He issued no free passes while striking out seven, lowering his ERA to 3.01. Al Alburquerque tossed two scoreless frames in relief before giving way to Evan Reed in the ninth. Reed enjoyed a quick 1-2-3 inning to wrap up the 10-0 victory.

The loss is the Phillies’ seventh in a row. They fall to 49-55, a full ten games behind the first place Braves in the NL East. They are temporarily ten games behind the Reds for the second Wild Card as well, but it will go up or down by a half-game depending on the result of tonight’s Reds-Dodgers game. The Tigers maintain a three-game lead over the Indians in the AL Central.

The Nationals have inquired about Kris Bryant

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The Washington Nationals, fresh off signing Stephen Strasburg to a $245 million deal, are now turning their attention to their third base hole. Jon Morosi of MLB.com reports that they have made inquiries to the Chicago Cubs about trading for Kris Bryant.

Emphasis on the word “inquiry” because it’d be premature for the Cubs to trade Bryant at the moment, even if they are reported to be considering the possibility.

Bryant and the Cubs are awaiting word from an arbitrator about Bryant’s years-old service time grievance. If Bryant wins, he becomes a free agent after the 2020 season. If the Cubs win they control him for two more years. The team may or may not choose to trade him in either case as they are reportedly trying to cut payroll, but the price for him will vary pretty significantly depending on whether or not the acquiring club will receive one or two years of control over the former MVP.

For Washington, this would be a means of replacing free agent third baseman Anthony Rendon. Or, perhaps, the inquiries are a means of creating a tad more leverage for the Nats as they talk to Rendon’s agent about re-signing him.

Which, in the past, the Nats said they could not do if they also re-signed Strasburg, though I suspect that’s just posturing too. They may not want to spend big money to keep their World Series core together, but they can afford it. They’re going to see, I suspect, an eight-figure uptick in revenue by virtue of being the defending World Series champs. They are poised to receive a significant payout as a result of recent rulings in their own multi-year dispute with the Orioles and the MASN network. They are, of course, owned by billionaire real estate moguls. All of that taken together means that, if they choose to, they can bring back Rendon. Assuming he chooses to come back too.

But, if that doesn’t happen, they appear to be giving themselves options at the hot corner.