Mets ace Max Scherzer to make return against Reds

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The future meets the present when a pair of starting pitchers return from injury Tuesday night as the visiting New York Mets meet the Cincinnati Reds in the middle game of their three-game series.

Cincinnati rookie left-hander Nick Lodolo (1-2, 5.52 ERA) is expected to come off the 60-day injured list to make his fourth career start — all this season — and his first since April 24. Lodolo landed on the IL on April 28, assigned first to the 10-day IL with a lower right back strain before being transferred to the 60-day IL on June 21.

Lodolo has been touted as one-third of Cincinnati’s talented rookie pitcher crop, along with Hunter Greene and Graham Ashcraft.

The Mets will counter with ace Max Scherzer (5-1, 2.54). Scherzer left the game against St. Louis on May 18 with a right oblique strain in the sixth inning and was placed on the injured list the following day.

Scherzer has dominated the Reds in Cincinnati over his career, posting a 4-0 record with a 0.33 ERA. In addition to winning all four previous starts at Great American Ball Park, Scherzer has allowed just one run in 27 innings. His 0.33 ERA at the venue is the lowest among all pitchers with at least 25 innings.

Overall, Scherzer is 6-2 with a 1.84 ERA in nine starts against the Reds. His 1.84 ERA is tied for the ninth-lowest mark among all pitchers with at least 50 innings against Cincinnati since the earned run became official in 1913.

After snapping their 10-game home losing streak on Sunday, the Reds lost again Monday in the opener to the Mets, dropping Cincinnati to 1-3 on its current 11-game homestand.

“Baseball is a crazy game,” said Reds third baseman Brandon Drury, who hit a game-tying three-run homer Monday. “That’s why you just got to keep going until the end because you never know what’s going to happen.”

“We’re very aware that we haven’t been winning as many games as we want to win, there is no question about that,” Reds manager David Bell said. “(I am) really happy with the resiliency.”

The second game of the series will continue the family reunion of Mets closer Edwin Diaz and his younger brother, Reds reliever Alexis Diaz, who is currently on the injured list and not available to pitch in the series.

Edwin is having his most overpowering season, racking up 17.54 strikeouts per nine innings while going 18-for-21 in save opportunities and posting a 1.95 ERA. He was given Monday off as reliever Seth Lugo recorded the final three outs for his third save in six chances.

“I’m really proud, because he’s worked really hard,” Edwin Diaz said of Alexis. “He had some injuries when he was in the minor leagues, but he made it, and he’s doing really, really good right now. I’m really happy for him.”

Alexis Diaz, who is three years younger, is battling more injury in his career, landing on the injured list with a strained right biceps. Alexis underwent Tommy John surgery in 2016 and pitched at Double-A Chattanooga last season.

This year, Alexis is 2-0 with a 2.40 ERA, including two saves in three chances for Cincinnati and on June 12, Alexis and Edwin Diaz became the third set of siblings to record saves on the same day.

–Field Level Media

Texas Rangers ink free-agent ace Jacob deGrom to 5-year deal

Jacob deGrom
USA Today

ARLINGTON, Texas — Jacob deGrom is headed to the free-spending Texas Rangers, who believe the health risk is worth the potential reward in trying to end a six-year run of losing.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner agreed to a $185 million, five-year contract Friday, leaving the New York Mets after nine seasons – the past two shortened substantially by injuries.

“We acknowledge the risk, but we also acknowledge that in order to get great players, there is a risk and a cost associated with that,” Rangers general manager Chris Young said. “And one we feel like is worth taking with a player of Jacob’s caliber.”

Texas announced the signing after the 34-year-old deGrom passed his physical. A person with direct knowledge of the deal disclosed the financial terms to The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the club did not announce those details.

The Rangers were also big spenders in free agency last offseason, signing shortstop Corey Seager ($325 million, 10 years) and second baseman Marcus Semien ($175 million, seven years).

The team said deGrom will be introduced in a news conference at Globe Life Field next week following the winter meetings in San Diego.

“It fits in so many ways in terms of what we need,” Young said. “He’s a tremendous person. I have a number of close friends and teammates who played with Jacob and love him. I think he’s going to be just a perfect fit for our clubhouse and our fans.”

Texas had modest expectations after adding Seager, Semien and starter Jon Gray ($56 million, four years) last offseason but still fell short of them.

The Rangers went 68-94, firing manager Chris Woodward during the season, and then hired Bruce Bochy, a three-time World Series champion with San Francisco. Texas’ six straight losing seasons are its worst skid since the franchise moved from Washington in 1972.

Rangers owner Ray Davis said the club wouldn’t hesitate to keep adding payroll. Including the $19.65 million qualifying offer accepted by Martin Perez, the team’s best pitcher last season, the Rangers have spent nearly $761 million in free agency over the past year.

“I hate losing, but I think there’s one person in our organization who hates losing worse than me, and I think it’s Ray Davis,” Young said. “He’s tired of losing. I’m tired of losing. Our organization is tired of losing.”

After making his first start in early August last season, deGrom went 5-4 with a 3.08 ERA in 11 outings. He helped the Mets reach the playoffs, then passed up a $30.5 million salary for 2023 and opted out of his contract to become a free agent for the first time.

That ended his deal with the Mets at $107 million over four years, and deGrom rejected their $19.65 million qualifying offer in November. New York will receive draft-pick compensation for losing him.

The fan favorite becomes the latest in a long line of ace pitchers to leave the Mets for one reason or another, including Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden and David Cone.

The Rangers visit Citi Field from Aug. 28-30.

When healthy, deGrom is perhaps baseball’s most dominant pitcher. His 2.52 career ERA ranks third in the expansion era (since 1961) behind Los Angeles Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw (2.48) and Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax (2.19) among those with at least 200 starts.

The right-hander is 4-1 with a 2.90 ERA in five career postseason starts, including a win over San Diego in the wild-card round this year that extended the Mets’ season. New York was eliminated the next night.

A four-time All-Star and the 2014 NL Rookie of the Year, deGrom was a ninth-round draft pick by the Mets in 2010 out of Stetson, where he played shortstop before moving to the mound. He was slowed by Tommy John surgery early in his career and didn’t reach the majors until age 26.

Once he arrived, though, he blossomed. He helped the Mets reach the 2015 World Series and earn a 2016 playoff berth before winning consecutive NL Cy Young Awards in 2018 and 2019.

But injuries to his elbow, forearm and shoulder blade have limited him to 26 starts over the past two seasons. He compiled a career-low 1.08 ERA over 92 innings in 2021, but did not pitch after July 7 that year because of arm trouble.

DeGrom is 82-57 with 1,607 strikeouts in 1,326 innings over nine big league seasons. He gets $30 million next year, $40 million in 2024 and 2025, $38 million in 2026 and $37 million in 2027. The deal includes a conditional option for 2028 with no guaranteed money.

The addition of deGrom gives the Rangers three proven starters along with Gray and Perez, who went 12-8 with a career-best 2.89 ERA in his return to the team that signed him as a teenager out of Venezuela. Young didn’t rule out the addition of another starter.

With several holes on their starting staff, the Mets have shown interest in free agents Justin Verlander and Carlos Rodon to pair with 38-year-old Max Scherzer atop the rotation.

Now, with deGrom gone, signing one of those two could become a much bigger priority.