Twins monitoring free agent left-hander Joe Saunders

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Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN.com reports that the Twins are monitoring the situation of free agent left-hander Joe Saunders and could be interested in signing him if he is willing to take “a minimal deal.”

Saunders made $6.5 million with the Mariners last season, but he struggled to find much interest over the winter after putting up a 5.26 ERA and 107/61 K/BB ratio over 183 innings. The 32-year-old had a tryout last week with the Rangers, who are also on the lookout for rotation depth.

As of now, the Twins project to go with Kevin Correia, Ricky Nolasco, Phil Hughes, and Mike Pelfrey for the first four spots in their starting rotation. Sam Deduno, Scott Diamond, and Vance Worley, who are all out of options, will compete for the final spot this spring.

Max Scherzer, with broken nose, strikes out 10 Phillies over seven shutout innings

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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.