Red Sox starter Rick Porcello and Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon were announced as the winners of the Comeback Player of the Year Awards for their respective leagues, Major League Baseball announced on Tuesday.
Porcello, 27, had mostly struggled as a starter in his first seven seasons in the majors, culminating with a career-worst 4.92 ERA in 2015. The right-hander bounced back in 2016, putting up a 22-4 record with a 3.15 ERA and a 189/32 K/BB ratio in 223 innings en route to winning the American League Cy Young Award. That came with a bit of controversy.
Rendon, 26, looked like he would be a perennial MVP candidate after a strong showing in 2014. However, he struggled to a .707 OPS and battled injuries in 2015, limiting him to 80 games. This past season, Rendon hit .270/.348/.450 with 20 home runs, 85 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 12 stolen bases in 647 plate appearances. It’s a nice turnaround for a player the Nationals will soon have to consider signing to a contract extension.
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.