Mad Max On The Move?

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The clock is ticking. According to multiple reports, the Nationals have been discussing a potential Max Scherzer trade with nearly half of the teams in baseball, and would like to complete a trade within the next 24-to-48 hours. The 37-year-old veteran right-hander was scratched from his previous outing on Saturday for precautionary reasons due to minor triceps discomfort, but threw a 40-pitch bullpen without issue on Monday, and has been medically cleared to make his next scheduled start on Thursday afternoon against the division-rival Phillies, which creates an artificial deadline for a potential deal before Friday’s major-league trade deadline.

There are plenty of hurdles to clear before any deal comes to fruition. Most importantly, Scherzer will have to waive his no-trade clause to facilitate his departure from the Nationals. As a result of his 10 years of service time, five straight with the same team, he has total control of his destiny. According to Mark Feinsand of MLB.com, the eight-time All-Star reportedly “strongly prefers the West Coast” if he were to waive his no-trade clause. Feinsand also added that this situation could present an interesting wrinkle in the hotly-contested NL West race between the Dodgers, Padres, and Giants. He would also be a major addition for potential American League contenders like the Blue Jays, Red Sox, Rays, Astros or Athletics. 

Despite his advanced age, Scherzer remains a durable workhorse, owns an extensive track record as a proven playoff performer, and represents the most-coveted starting pitcher available ahead of Friday’s trade deadline by a considerable margin. He’s allowed two earned runs or fewer in 14 of his 18 starts and owns a sparkling 2.83 ERA, 0.89 WHIP and 142/25 K/BB ratio across 105 innings of work. Per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic and Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post, due to the structure of Scherzer's contract, an acquiring team wouldn't actually owe the impending free agent any money for the remainder of the season. However, the acquiring team would still take the CBT hit (around $12 million), so it's still something that is likely to be a significant factor for a team going up against the threshold.

The Nationals, less than two years removed from a World Series title, appear squarely on the precipice of undergoing a more dramatic transformation over the next few days than any other franchise in baseball. It wouldn’t be appropriate to call it a full-scale teardown, since franchise cornerstone Juan Soto remains the organization’s core pillar to rebuild around, but it’s certainly a departure from the “win-now” mindset that permeated the perennial contenders over the last few seasons. Based on all of the reporting, it appears there will be a resolution on the Scherzer front prior to Thursday evening. Stay tuned. 

Strasburg Undergoing Season-Ending Surgery

Nationals manager Dave Martinez told reporters Tuesday that Stephen Strasburg will undergo season-ending surgery on Wednesday for neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome. Barring any setbacks, he’s expected to be ready for spring training next February. The 33-year-old righty made only five starts during the 2021 campaign due to injury and finished with a lackluster 4.57 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, and 21/14 K/BB ratio across just 21 2/3 innings. He was also limited to only five innings during the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign due to a hand issue that eventually required carpal tunnel surgery. There isn’t an extensive track record of pitchers successfully coming back from thoracic outlet syndrome, so it’s definitely a major concern moving forward.

Mariners Deal Kendall Graveman, Net Tyler Anderson

Astros acquired RHP’s Kendall Graveman and Rafael Montero from the Mariners for INF Abraham Toro and RHP Joe Smith

Mariners acquired LHP Tyler Anderson from Pirates for minor-league prospects C Carter Bins and RHP Joaquin Tejada …

Less than 24 hours after one of the most dramatic regular-season victories in recent franchise history, the Mariners elected to jettison electrifying closer Kendall Graveman to the division-rival Astros on Tuesday evening in a controversial deal that sent shockwaves through the Seattle clubhouse. Despite relatively low mathematical playoff odds, the Mariners found themselves just one game out of a Wild Card spot entering Tuesday’s pivotal contest at T-Mobile Park. Simply put, it felt like Seattle was gaining some momentum, and had a realistic shot at ending the franchise's 19-year postseason drought, the longest active streak in North American professional sports. While the decision to deal Graveman, who was set to hit free agency this offseason, may wind up being the correct long-term decision, especially if Abraham Toro — who launched a pinch-hit two-run homer in his Mariners debut on Tuesday evening — blossoms into an everyday third baseman and the eventual successor to veteran Kyle Seager at the hot corner. However, it certainly has an adverse impact on their immediate future.

Meanwhile, the Astros, who were on the receiving end of the Mariners’ improbable seven-run comeback on Monday evening, get an immediate injection of life into their overtaxed bullpen. Graveman has morphed into one of the best relievers in baseball this season, recording a microscopic 0.82 ERA, 0.697 WHIP, and 34/8 K/BB ratio across 33 innings. He’s also converted 10 of 12 save opportunities this season. He’ll provide the Astros with a massive boost to their bullpen, likely settling in as a hard-throwing, high-leverage specialist ahead of All-Star closer Ryan Pressly.

Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto wasn’t done dealing on Tuesday night either as he managed to swoop in to acquire left-hander Tyler Anderson from the Pirates several hours after a reported trade between the Phillies and Pirates stalled out due to a medical issue involving one of the prospects involved in the deal. The 31-year-old southpaw isn’t a top-of-the-rotation impact performer, as evidenced by a pedestrian 4.35 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and 86/25 K/BB ratio across 103 1/3 innings (18 starts) this season, but he’s a reliable starting pitcher that will give Seattle some additional depth and is still under team control beyond the 2021 campaign. 

Starting Pitchers with an EDGE

Austin Gomber vs. Angels

6.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 K

34% CSW, 14 swinging strikes

There simply weren’t a ton of standout pitching performances on Tuesday evening, but Gomber twirled a six-inning gem against the Angels in Los Angeles. He finished with seven strikeouts and was flawless outside of a two-run homer by Shohei Ohtani in the fifth inning. The 27-year-old lefty holds a solid 3.69 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 86/26 K/BB ratio across 90 1/3 innings (17 starts). He’ll face a tough test in a road outing on Sunday afternoon against the Padres.

Logan Webb vs. Dodgers

6.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K

39% CSW, 9 swinging strikes

Webb delivered another sensational performance on Tuesday night, tallying five strikeouts and limiting the Dodgers to just one run on three hits and a walk over six frames. He threw 52 of 82 pitches for strikes and finished with an elite 39 percent CSW (called strikes plus whiffs). The 24-year-old righty has allowed just four runs with a 16/5 K/BB ratio across 18 innings (four starts) since coming off the injured list earlier this month. Based on his recent performance, he should be rostered in all fantasy formats.

Adam Wainwright vs. Cleveland

7.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 8 K

33% CSW, 10 swinging strikes

Wainwright completed seven frames for the 10th time this season on Tuesday night, limiting Cleveland to a two-run homer by Jose Ramirez in the fourth inning of a low-scoring affair at Progressive Field. The 39-year-old veteran righty remains a durable workhorse and a consistent fantasy contributor, posting a solid 3.51 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and 119/34 K/BB ratio across 125 2/3 innings (20 starts). He’ll look to keep the momentum going when he faces the Braves at home on Tuesday night.

Hitters with an EDGE

Fernando Tatis Jr. vs. Athletics

2-for-3, 2 R, HR (31), 2 RBI, BB

Tatis Jr. reached base safely in three of his four plate appearances on Tuesday evening and also drilled a colossal 440-foot homer to left-center field — his 31st round-tripper of the season — off righty James Kaprielian in the third inning. We've run out of superlatives to describe his surreal exploits this season. The 22-year-old five-category fantasy superstar owns a sublime .291/.375/.654 triple-slash line with 79 runs scored, 31 homers, 69 RBI and 23 stolen bases across 357 plate appearances.

Austin Riley vs. Mets

2-for-5, 2 R, 2 HR (18, 19, 6 RBI

Riley was the primary beneficiary of the Mets’ decision to roll out right-hander Jerad Eickhoff on Tuesday evening, launching a gargantuan 432-foot grand slam to left field in the fourth inning. He also blasted a two-run laser to left field off righty Yennsy Diaz in the sixth inning to complete his third multi-homer effort of the season and finish with 852 feet of combined distance on those big flies. The 24-year-old slugger is up to 19 round-tripper’s already and has a realistic shot at recording the first 30-homer campaign of his career.  

Joey Votto vs. Cubs 

2-for-4, 2 R, 2 HR (16, 17), 2 RBI

After missing a significant chunk of the first half due to injury, Votto has been locked-in at the dish recently, hitting .350/.460/.850 with nine runs scored, six homers and 13 RBI across 11 games since the Midsummer Classic. The 37-year-old veteran first baseman launched a pair of solo homers off righty Adbert Alzolay on Tuesday evening to register his first multi-homer effort since June 29, 2017. He’s putting together a phenomenal stretch lately and appears poised to contribute for fantasy managers over the final two months of the 2021 campaign.

Juan Soto vs. Phillies

2-for-4, 2 R, HR (18), 3 RBI

Amidst all of the chaos in Washington, Soto continues to mash. The 22-year-old generational superstar walloped a 424-foot three-run homer — his 18th round-tripper of the season — off lefty Matt Moore in the second inning. He’s been tearing the cover off the ball, hitting .361/.511/.917 with six home runs, 13 RBI and an 11/6 BB/K ratio across 10 games since the All-Star break. Unreal.

Harrison Bader vs. Cleveland

3-for-4, 2 R, HR (9), RBI, SB (6)

Bader has blossomed into a viable mixed-league caliber fantasy contributor, hitting .487/.535/.846 with eight runs scored, three homers, nine RBI and one stolen base across 11 games since the All-Star break. The 27-year-old speedster tallied three hits, including a solo homer off righty Cal Quantrill in the third inning, and also swiped a base on Tuesday night in the Cardinals’ narrow victory over Cleveland. He’s sizzling-hot at the dish right now and merits a roster spot in all fantasy formats.

Eloy Jimenez vs. Royals

2-for-4, R, HR (1), 3 RBI

He’s officially back. Jimenez capped off the White Sox’ late-inning rally with a go-ahead three-run blast to left-center field off righty Kyle Zimmer with two outs in the eighth inning. It was his first round-tripper of the year. The 24-year-old middle-of-the-order force has shown zero signs of rust since returning from the injured list earlier this week. He’s special, folks.

Closing Time

Mark Melancon vs. Athletics 

1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K (31st save)

Melancon was summoned to protect a three-run lead in the ninth inning and needed only nine pitches to spin a perfect frame and collect his major league-leading 31st save of the season. The 36-year-old veteran stopper has converted 31 of his 35 save opportunities this season.

Alex Reyes vs. Cleveland

1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K (24th save)

Reyes reeled off a scoreless ninth inning, despite drilling Bobby Bradley with a breaking ball with two outs in the frame, to preserve a two-run lead and collect his 24th save of the season. The dynamic 26-year-old righty possesses Carlos Marmol-esque control, yet he’s managed to convert 24 of his 25 save opportunities this season.

Liam Hendriks vs. Royals

1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K (25th save)

Hendriks came on to protect a two-run lead in the ninth inning after the White Sox erased a two-run deficit with four runs in the eighth inning. The 32-year-old fireballer has tossed five scoreless frames since the All-Star break. He’s converted 25 of 29 save chances overall this season.

Aroldis Chapman vs. Rays

1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K (19th save)

Chapman got the call to guard a one-run lead in the ninth inning on Tuesday night and managed to work around a two-out walk by rookie infielder Wander Franco, whiffing Nelson Cruz to end the ballgame. The 33-year-old southpaw has re-emerged as a viable mixed-league closer, going a perfect 3-for-3 in save chances since the All-Star break.

Jake McGee vs. Dodgers

1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K (21st save)

McGee required only nine pitches to fire a perfect frame on Tuesday night against the Dodgers, protecting a one-run lead to notch his 21st save of the season. The 34-year-old lefty has converted 21 of 23 save chances and hasn’t allowed a run in 19 consecutive appearances since June 4.

Brad Hand vs. Phillies

1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K (21st save)

For reasons that are difficult to explain, Hand was called on to protect a two-run lead in the ninth inning on Tuesday after blowing a save in each of the two consecutive days prior. The 31-year-old southpaw has converted 21 of 26 save chances and figures to be dealt to a contending team ahead of the major-league trade deadline later this week.

Ian Kennedy vs. Diamondbacks

1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K (16th save)

Kennedy whiffed David Peralta and Andy Young to open the ninth inning before getting Nick Ahmed to fly out to right field to end the contest. The 36-year-old righty has converted 16 of 17 save chances this season, and could make sense as a trade candidate for a contenting team looking to add bullpen depth.

Hansel Robles vs. Tigers

0.2 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 0 K (3rd blown save)

Not good. Robles recorded only two outs and surrendered a game-tying four runs before exiting Tuesday night’s game against the Tigers due to an apparent injury. With lefty Taylor Rogers already on the injured list due to a finger injury, it’s unclear exactly who would be next up for the Twins in a future save situation, but fantasy managers may want to steer clear of this quagmire altogether moving forward.

Daniel Norris vs. Twins

1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K (1st save)

Norris got the call in the 11th inning to protect a one-run lead on Tuesday night, and needed only six pitches to slam the door on the Twins, netting his first save of the season in the process.

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EDGE Priority Pickup

Tanner Houck, SP/RP, Red Sox

Houck has been phenomenal, reeling off 7 2/3 scoreless innings with an 11/3 K/BB ratio across two appearances versus the Yankees, since being recalled from Triple-A Worcester immediately after the All-Star break. The 25-year-old righty has excelled at the major-league level, thanks to his hard-biting elite slider, compiling a sparkling 2.50 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 23/4 K/BB ratio across 18 innings (five appearances, three starts) this season. He'll face an extremely tough test on Wednesday evening when he faces the Blue Jays at some point during a twin-billing at Fenway Park. However, given his immense strikeout potential and stability as a permanent member of the Red Sox' major-league pitching staff, he's worthy of a roster spot in all fantasy formats moving forward.

Wednesday’s Matchup of the Day

Tylor Megill (Mets) vs. Braves — 7:10 PM ET — 

With the Mets’ starting rotation inundated by injuries to veteran stalwarts, Megill has managed to keep them afloat over the last few weeks, compiling a microscopic 2.10 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 33/10 K/BB ratio across 30 innings (six starts) since June 23. The 25-year-old righty will be facing the Braves for the third time on Wednesday evening, so there’s definitely some risk that they’ve seen him enough times to figure him out, but he hasn’t had a problem so far as he allowed just five runs over 9 1/3 frames across a pair of outings back in late-June.    

 

American League Quick Hits: Tuesday’s game between the Blue Jays and Red Sox was postponed due to inclement weather. It will be made up on Wednesday as a doubleheader … Yankees traded RHP Luis Cessa and LHP Justin Wilson to the Reds in exchange for a player to be named later … Jon Morosi of MLB.com reported that the Yankees, Blue Jays and Padres have discussed Joey Gallo in trade talks with the Rangers … Luis Robert transferred his minor-league rehab assignment to Triple-A Charlotte … Adalberto Mondesi (oblique) has been doing infield drills and taking batting practice … Twins placed LHP Taylor Rogers on the 10-day injured list with a left middle finger sprain … Royals general manager Dayton Moore said Tuesday that he expects Danny Duffy (forearm) to be ready to return in 3-4 weeks … Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said Tuesday that Alek Manoah is on track to start on Saturday against the Royals … Yankees activated OF Aaron Judge from the COVID-19 injured list … Xander Bogaerts was absent from the Red Sox’ starting lineup for the second straight day on Tuesday evening due to a lingering minor wrist issue … Jared Walsh (abdomen) was held out of the Angels' starting lineup on Tuesday night … Shohei Ohtani blasted his major league-leading 36th round-tripper in the Angels’ loss to the Rockies … Yordan Alvarez went 3-for-5 with a three-run homer, leading the Astros past the Mariners … Joey Gallo clobbered a three-run homer, powering the Rangers to a victory over the Diamondbacks … Jose Ramirez slugged a two-run homer in Cleveland’s loss to the Cardinals … Akil Baddoo and Eric Haase homered in the Tigers’ victory over the Twins in extra-innings … Mitch Garver slugged a grand slam in the Twins’ loss to the Tigers in extra-innings … Cedric Mullins went 2-for-4 with a solo homer in the Orioles’ loss to the Marlins … Andrew Benintendi went 2-for-4 with a pair of runs scored in the Royals’ loss to the White Sox … Gavin Sheets belted a solo homer in the White Sox’ win over the Royals … Gio Urshela went 2-for-4 with a pair of RBI in the Yankees’ victory over the Red Sox … Brandon Lowe tallied three hits, including a two-run homer, in the Rays’ loss to the Yankees … Sean Murphy went 2-for-4 with a solo homer and two RBI in the Athletics' loss to the Padres … Jordan Montgomery reeled off five scoreless frames in a win over the Rays … Kenta Maeda allowed one run over 6 1/3 innings in a no-decision against the Tigers … Dylan Cease struck out six batters and was charged with three runs (two earned) over six innings in a no-decision against the Royals … Lance McCullers Jr. recorded eight strikeouts over six innings on Tuesday in a win over the Mariners … Shane McClanahan notched six strikeouts over six innings of three-run ball in a loss to the Yankees … James Kaprielian was lit up for six runs over 4 1/3 innings on Tuesday in a loss to the Padres … Cal Quantrill allowed one run over six innings in a no-decision versus the Cardinals … Brad Keller yielded one run over seven innings in a no-decision against the White Sox … Dane Dunning gave up two runs over 6 1/3 innings in a win over the Diamondbacks … Jose Suarez was charged with eight runs (four earned) over 3 1/3 innings in a loss to the Rockies … Chris Flexen was torched for seven runs over four innings on Tuesday in a loss to the Astros … Spenser Watkins allowed four runs over four innings in a loss to the Marlins … Tyler Alexander surrendered five runs over four innings in a no-decision against the Twins.

National League Quick Hits: MLB and MLBPA agreed to extend Trevor Bauer’s administrative leave until August 6 … Trea Turner was abruptly pulled in the first inning of Tuesday’s game against the Phillies after testing positive for COVID-19. He’ll be sidelined for the next 10 days … Brewers placed OF Christian Yelich on the COVID-19 injured list. The 29-year-old outfielder, who is fully vaccinated, tested positive in a rare breakthrough case. He has been experiencing mild symptoms and will be sidelined for at least 10 days … Brewers, who are one of the teams above the 85 percent vaccination threshold, also placed OF Jace Peterson on the COVID-19 injured list due to contact tracing … Carlos Carrasco (hamstring) is expected to make his Mets debut on Friday against the Reds … Ken Davidoff of the New York Post reported that the Mets' agreement with first-round selection (10th overall) Kumar Rocker is in limbo due to concerns about his right elbow … Jack Flaherty (oblique) threw two scoreless innings on Tuesday night in his minor-league rehab assignment debut with Triple-A Memphis … Travis d'Arnaud (thumb) is set to begin a minor league rehab assignment towards the end of this week … Clayton Kershaw (forearm) threw three innings in a simulated setting on Tuesday … Mookie Betts (hip) could return from the IL when first eligible this Sunday … Cody Bellinger (hamstring) was back in the Dodgers’ lineup on Tuesday versus the Giants … Yadier Molina (neck) returned to the Cardinals' starting lineup on Tuesday night at Cleveland … Javier Baez (heel) was scratched from the Cubs’ starting lineup on Tuesday evening versus the Reds … Manny Machado went 2-for-4 with a three-run homer on Tuesday in the Padres' victory over the Athletics … Bryce Harper went 3-for-5 with an inside-the-park home run and two RBI in the Phillies’ loss to the Nationals … Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant and Patrick Wisdom homered in the Cubs’ loss to the Reds … Jesse Winker tattooed a solo homer in the Reds’ victory over the Cubs … Omar Narvaez went 2-for-5 with a two-run homer and four RBI, leading the Brewers to a blowout victory over the Pirates … Brian Anderson went 3-for-4 with a solo homer and a stolen base, powering the Marlins past the Orioles … Jeff McNeil went 2-for-5 with a two-run dinger in the Mets’ lopsided defeat at the hands of the Braves … Daulton Varsho walked twice and scored a pair of runs in the Diamondbacks’ loss to the Rangers … Brendan Rodgers and Sam Hilliard went deep in the Rockies’ blowout win over the Angels … Julio Urias was charged with one run over 5 2/3 innings in a no-decision against the Giants … Sandy Alcantara yielded three runs over six innings in a win over the Orioles … Charlie Morton allowed three runs over five frames to cruise to a victory over the Mets … Brett Anderson spun six scoreless frames in a win over the Pirates … Chris Paddack notched six strikeouts over six innings on Tuesday in a win over the Athletics … Adbert Alzolay surrendered four runs over five innings in a loss to the Reds … Vladimir Gutierrez allowed two runs over 6 1/3 innings in a win over the Cubs … Taylor Widener coughed up five runs over 3 2/3 innings in a loss to the Rangers … Erick Fedde gave up four runs over 4 2/3 innings in a no-decision against the Phillies … Matt Moore served up six runs over four innings in a loss to the Nationals … Luis Oviedo was charged with eight runs (six earned) over an inning of work in a loss to the Brewers … Cody Ponce whiffed five batters over five scoreless frames in a relief appearance against the Brewers … Jerad Eickhoff was obliterated for 10 runs over 3 1/3 frames in a loss to the Braves … Diamondbacks released RHP Jon Duplantier.