Max Scherzer
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Nationals place Max Scherzer on injured list with back strain

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Nationals starter Max Scherzer is headed to the 10-day injured list, this time with a mid-back strain. Scherzer initially announced his intention to pitch through the pain when he started to feel symptoms several weeks ago, but even after receiving plenty of time off during the All-Star Break, it appears he hasn’t made a full recovery yet.

Prior to his injured list assignment, the seven-time All-Star closed out the first half of the season with a 9-5 record in 19 starts and a 2.30 ERA, 1.6 BB/9, NL-best 12.9 SO/9, and 5.5 fWAR through 129 1/3 innings. He elected to skip the All-Star Game due to his condition and told reporters he felt capable of handling his next scheduled start on Sunday versus the Phillies, though that’s clearly no longer the case.

Although an estimated return date has not been given, the move is retroactive to July 10 with a possible activation date of July 20. Scherzer received promising news after undergoing an MRI on Friday, the results of which came back negative for any serious injury. He threw the ball at 75 feet and is likely to continue working his way back to the mound over the next several weeks.

In a corresponding move, the club recalled catcher Spencer Kieboom from Double-A Harrisburg to take Scherzer’s spot on the roster. Kieboom, 28, has not appeared in a major league game since 2018, and hasn’t particularly excelled in the minors this year, either: through Friday, he’s batting just .213/.257/.291 with eight extra bases, 11 RBI, and a .549 OPS across 136 plate appearances.

Video: Ronald Acuña Jr. second-youngest to join 30-30 club

Ronald Acuna Jr.
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Braves 21-year-old outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. nabbed his 30th stolen base of the season on Friday, becoming the second-youngest player in Major League history to produce at least 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases in a single season. Per MLB Stats, the only other player under 22 years old to pull off the feat is Mike Trout, who did so with 30 home runs and 49 stolen bases during his age-20 season in 2012.

Acuña’s triumphant moment came in the eighth inning of Friday’s game against the Mets. He drew a six-pitch walk against righty reliever Seth Lugo, then waited for an opportune moment as Ozzie Albies stepped to the plate. Lugo fired a 93-m.p.h. fastball to Albies for ball no. 2, which was promptly returned to second base by catcher Wilson Ramos. The throw came in high, however; Amed Rosario had to jump to make the catch, allowing Acuña to slide safely into the bag and hit his career mark.

It’s been an eventful season for the All-Star outfielder, whose 36 home runs and 30 stolen bases helps pad a .294/.377/.536 batting line and 5.1 fWAR over 597 plate appearances. Through the first 11 innings of Friday’s contest, he went 0-for-3 with a pair of walks and a stolen base.