Max Scherzer
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Max Scherzer will not pitch in All-Star Game

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Several hours after turning in a terrific, season-best performance against the Royals — a performance during which he not only shut out the competition for seven innings of 11-strikeout ball, but nabbed the second stolen base of his 12-year career in the majors — Nationals ace Max Scherzer announced his decision to sit out of Tuesday’s All-Star Game.

Per a report from Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post, Scherzer has been pitching through a bout of back tightness for the last week and need additional rest in the days leading up to his next scheduled start after the All-Star break. So far, it doesn’t appear that his condition has worsened to the point of necessitating a move to the injured list, and Dougherty adds that Scherzer feels confident the issue will clear up in the days to come.

Through Saturday’s 6-0 shutout, the 34-year-old right-hander is 9-5 in 19 starts with a terrific 2.30 ERA, 1.6 BB/9, 12.6 SO/9, and 5.5 fWAR across 129 1/3 innings. His strikeouts (181) and FIP (2.01) are league-best marks through the first half of the 2019 season, and while he may not take the mound for the official All-Star Game later this week, he now has seven consecutive All-Star designations under his belt.

Without Scherzer, the National League All-Star squad will turn to the talented Sonny Gray in his stead. Gray, 29, may not have quite the resume that Scherzer does, but he’s worked hard to improve last year’s totals with a 3.59 ERA, 3.3 BB/9, 10.3 SO/9, and 2.2 fWAR through his first 90 1/3 innings with the Reds in 2019.

Rays’ Erik Neander named Executive of the Year

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At the GM meetings in Scottsdale, Arizona on Monday, Rays GM Erik Neander was named the recipient of Major League Baseball’s Executive of the Year Award for the 2019 season. The Yankees’ Brian Cashman was the runner-up while the Athletics’ Billy Beane and the Twins’ Derek Falvey tied for third place.

Neander has worked for the Rays since 2017 but has operated in his current role since November 2016, taking over for Matthew Silverman who was promoted to president of the Rays alongside Brian Auld.

The Rays had, by far, the lowest payroll in baseball at $53.5 million, according to USA TODAY. Neander’s peers voting him Executive of the Year on the same today the league had to curtail its awarding of a prize belt to the team that suppressed salaries the most in arbitration is… certainly interesting timing.

At any rate, Neander’s Rays went 96-66 in 2019, finishing in second place in the AL East behind the 103-59 Yankees. The Rays claimed the second AL Wild Card and defeated the A’s to earn entry into the ALDS where they lost in five games to the Astros. It was the Rays’ first playoff appearance since 2013 and their regular season win total was second-most in franchise history behind the 2008 team (97).