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Jason Vargas blanks Giants for eighth career shutout


Jason Vargas, best known to Mets fans as being not-Dallas-Keuchel, continued to pitch well on Wednesday, tossing a shutout against the Giants. The lefty yielded just five hits and a walk while striking out eight in the Mets’ 7-0 victory.

Vargas last threw a complete game on June 2, 2017, when he was a Royal and shut out the Indians. Wednesday’s outing marks his eighth career shutout. Since 201, the year Vargas threw his first shutout, only one pitcher has racked up more shutouts: Clayton Kershaw (14). Adam Wainwright also has eight while six others (James Shields, Cliff Lee, Corey Kluber, Derek Holland, Félix Hernández, and Johnny Cueto) have seven.

Vargas has been on a roll lately. He gave up a run over seven innings against the Dodgers on May 30 and limited the Tigers to one run over five innings before that. His ERA is down to 3.57 and now owns a 37/19 K/BB ratio in 45 1/3 innings. In the Mets’ rotation, only Jacob deGrom (3.49) has a better ERA than Vargas.

Nationals to reinstate Max Scherzer on Thursday

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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.