Al Bello

James Paxton tosses four hitless innings in return from IL

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The Yankees activated lefty James Paxton from the 10-day injured list to make Wednesday afternoon’s start against the Padres. It went well, to say the least. Paxton held the Padres hitless over four innings, walking two and striking out seven on 66 pitches.

On offense, DJ LeMahieu, Giovany Urshela, Gleyber Torres, and Luke Voit each went yard. Once Paxton was out of the game, Chad Green, Adam Ottavino, Jonathan Holder, and Nestor Cortes Jr. combined for five scoreless innings as the Yankees went on to win 7-0. The Rays, who play tonight, entered Wednesday just one game behind the Yankees for first place in the AL East.

Paxton, 30, went on the IL on May 4 due to inflammation in his left knee. He lasted only three innings in his May 3 outing against the Twins. Following Wednesday’s start, Paxton now holds a 2.81 ERA with a 59/15 K/BB ratio in 41 2/3 innings. The Yankees are certainly happy to have him back.

Nationals to reinstate Max Scherzer on Thursday

Max Scherzer
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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.