Max Scherzer just did something he never did in winning the Cy Young award

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Max Scherzer got off to a shaky start this afternoon, walking the first batter he faced and giving up a single to the second hitter, but then he escaped the first inning without any damage and went on to shut out the Royals for eight innings.

His final line: 8.0 innings, 0 runs, 4 hits, 1 walk, 7 strikeouts, 110 pitches.

That may not seem like a big deal for the reigning Cy Young winner, but actually in going 21-3 with a 2.90 ERA last season Scherzer never completed eight scoreless innings in a start.

He allowed zero runs in four of his 32 outings last year, but they were 6.0, 6.0, 7.0, and 7.2 innings each. He did throw eight innings seven times, going 5-0 in those starts, but allowed 1, 1, 1, 2, 2, 3, and 4 runs.

Or, put another way: Max Scherzer’s first start of 2014 was better* than any of his 32 starts in 2013, and he was the best pitcher in the American League in 2013.

(*Arguably, I guess, but you get the idea.)

UPDATE: And here’s another thing that didn’t happen to Scherzer much last season: Detroit’s offense provided him with only one run of support and the bullpen blew a 1-0 lead, costing him a “win.”

Diamondbacks, T.J. McFarland avoid arbitration

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Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Diamondbacks and reliever T.J. McFarland have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $1.45 million salary for the 2019 season. McFarland, in his third of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $1.675 million while the Diamondbacks countered at $1.275 million. McFarland ended up settling for just under the midpoint of those two figures.

McFarland, 29, was terrific out of the bullpen for the D-Backs last season, finishing with a 2.00 ERA and a 42/22 K/BB ratio in 72 innings. While the lefty may not miss a lot of bats, he does induce quite a few grounders. His 67.9 percent ground ball rate last season was the third highest among relievers with at least 50 innings, trailing only Brad Ziegler (71.1%) and Scott Alexander (70.6%).

McFarland was dominant against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .388 OPS last season, but the D-Backs deployed him nearly twice as often against right-handed hitters, who posted an aggregate .764 OPS against him. It will be interesting to see if the club decides to use him more as a platoon reliever in 2019.