Nick Franklin lost his starting job at second base when the Mariners signed Robinson Cano and then failed to beat out Brad Miller in a spring training shortstop competition. That led to a demotion to Triple-A, but he crushed Pacific Coast League pitching to earn a quick call-up … and now he’s starting in right field today.
It’s the first time in Franklin’s entire professional career, majors or minors, that he’s started somewhere other than shortstop or second base and he’s logged a grand total of two innings as an outfielder.
He’s getting a chance in the outfield largely because of Logan Morrison’s hamstring injury, but if Franklin hits well it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Mariners give him an extended look. If nothing else it would be a way to showcase his bat for a potential trade to a team that still views the 23-year-old as a long-term solution in the middle infield.
Some good news for the Nationals today: All-Star hurler Max Scherzer is due back from the injured list this week, this time (hopefully) for good. He’s slated to start during Thursday’s series finale against the Pirates.
It’s been a long road back for the right-hander, who earned his seventh consecutive All-Star designation after heading into the break with a 2.30 ERA, 5.6 fWAR, and a league-leading 7.56 SO/BB rate. An untimely back injury forced him to the injured list in the days leading up to the All-Star Game, however, and he hasn’t returned in any kind of part-time or full-time capacity since.
While Scherzer was originally expected to pitch for the Nationals sometime during their weekend series versus the Brewers, manager Dave Martinez elected to push back his return date by a few days. It’s not clear whether he felt some lingering pain during his 64-pitch simulated start on Saturday or whether the Nationals simply want to play it safe with their ace, but either way, the club apparently feels like Scherzer will be back to full strength before the end of the week.
If so, his return would be a significant asset to the Nationals, who could use a sub-3.00 ERA, 5.0-fWAR starter to help bolster their standing in the NL East. Still, there’s no guarantee that the veteran righty is ready to shoulder a full-time role in Washington’s rotation, nor is it certain that he’ll be able to match his results from the first half of the season. In one start between IL stints last month, he dealt five innings of three-run, two-walk, eight-strikeout ball in an 8-7 loss to the Rockies.