Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. indicated Friday that he didn’t expect to make any additions prior to spring training, but Todd Zolecki of MLB.com hears that the club is “very much still in the running” to sign free agent right-hander A.J. Burnett.
While it’s unclear if the two sides are close to a deal, Zolecki writes that the chances have improved since Friday. The Pirates are seen as the main competition to sign the veteran right-hander, while the Orioles and the Nationals have also been mentioned as possibilities.
If signed, Burnett would give the Phillies a pretty impressive trio along with Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels. As of now, Kyle Kendrick is slated to be Philadelphia’s No. 3 starter, with Roberto Hernandez and either Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez or Jonathan Pettibone filling the final two spots.
Burnett, 37, had a 3.30 ERA and 209/67 K/BB ratio over 191 innings with the Pirates last season.
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.