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.”

Blue Jays release John Axford

John Axford
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The Blue Jays have released right-handed reliever John Axford from his minor league contract, per an announcement on Saturday. Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi speculates that the move could provide an avenue for the club to rework Axford’s contract, but the Blue Jays have yet to confirm or deny the report.

Axford, 35, was dealt a blow on Thursday after getting diagnosed with a stress reaction in the olecranon bone of his right elbow. Elbow soreness dogged the right-hander through much of his time in camp, and although he was scheduled for a follow-up examination later this spring, a definite return date had not been established.

Prior to the diagnosis, Axford was tabbed for a setup role with the team in 2019. He pitched to mixed results in 2018 (thanks in part to a late-season fracture of his right fibula) with a 5.27 ERA, 4.9 BB/9, and 9.8 SO/9 through 54 2/3 innings with the Blue Jays and Dodgers. Now, however, it’s not certain that he’ll return to the mound this season in any capacity.

Axford isn’t the only reliever the Blue Jays have lost to injury lately, either, as right-handers Ryan Tepera and Bud Norris have been sidelined with right elbow inflammation and forearm fatigue, respectively. Per Davidi, the Blue Jays offered Norris a $100,000 retention bonus to prevent him from opting out of the minor league contract he signed in February.