Max Scherzer Silences Reds, Continues Epic Run

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Max Scherzer has established himself as the clear front-runner for the National League’s Cy Young Award since his arrival in Los Angeles, recording a microscopic 0.78 ERA, 0.66 WHIP and 79/7 K/BB ratio across 58 innings (nine starts) since August 4. The 37-year-old workhorse continued one of the most dominant runs on Saturday afternoon, winning for the seventh time in nine starts with the Dodgers, scattering two hits and a pair of walks over seven scoreless innings against the Reds. He finished with seven strikeouts, induced 14 swinging strikes and posted a respectable 28 percent CSW (called strikes plus whiffs).

Scherzer has put together one of the strongest stretches of his legendary career, winning 11 consecutive decisions since June 4. With the victory, the Dodgers find themselves within two games of the NL West-leading Giants and have already secured a playoff berth with two weeks left in the regular season. They’re the last team anyone wants to face in a potential one-game Wild Card playoff game next month, especially if they’re going to have to face Scherzer in a win-or-go-home elimination scenario.

Starting Pitchers with an EDGE

Aaron Nola vs. Mets

5.2 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 9 K

32% CSW, 9 swinging strikes

Nola fell just shy of his seventh double-digit strikeout effort on Saturday night, leading the Phillies to a much-needed victory over the division-rival Mets. He gave up only four hits as an RBI ground out from Francisco Lindor represented the lone tally against him. The 28-year-old righty has been underwhelming from a run prevention standpoint, but he’s been an elite strikeout artist this season.

Corbin Burnes vs. Cubs

6.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 11 K

32% CSW, 22 swinging strikes

Burnes picked up right where he left off after striking out 14 batters over eight no-hit innings in his previous start, piling up 11 strikeouts over six frames in a no-decision against the Cubs. He wasn’t perfect in this one as he gave up three runs on six hits, including a two-run homer to Ian Happ in the fifth inning, but he still generated an absurd 22 swinging strikes and finished with a 32 percent CSW.

Yu Darvish vs. Cardinals

6.0 IP, 7 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 K

34% CSW, 11 swinging strikes

Darvish authored one of his strongest performances of the season on Saturday night, racking up nine strikeouts and scattering four baserunners over seven scoreless innings against the Cardinals. The 35-year-old righty had struggled mightily recently, allowing 37 runs (36 earned) across 45 innings (nine starts) in the second half entering this outing.

Hitters with an EDGE

Tyler O’Neill vs. Padres

1-for-4, R, HR (28), 2 RBI

O’Neill completed the Cardinals’ dramatic comeback victory on Saturday night with a go-ahead two-run homer off Padres reliever Emilio Pagan in the eighth inning. The 26-year-old outfielder has left the yard in three of his last four games and seven times over his last 15 contests. With the victory, the Cardinals find themselves in the driver’s seat (two games ahead of the Reds, Phillies and Padres) for the final NL Wild Card playoff berth entering the last two weeks of the regular season.

Xander Bogaerts vs. Orioles

3-for-5, 2 R, HR (22), 4 RBI

Bogaerts led the Red Sox to a critical victory on Saturday afternoon, capping a three-hit effort against the Orioles with a gargantuan three-run blast over the Green Monster off righty reliever Mike Baumann in the sixth inning. It was his 22nd long ball of the season. The 28-year-old shortstop has gotten off to a frosty start at the plate since returning from the COVID-19 injured list last week, but he’s shown signs recently that he’s reverting back to his elite form just in time for the Red Sox playoff push.

Franmil Reyes vs. Yankees

3-for-5, 2 R, HR (30), 3 RBI

Reyes served as Cleveland’s main offensive catalyst on Saturday afternoon in a blowout victory over the Yankees, tallying three hits, including a two-run homer off lefty reliever Andrew Heaney in the sixth inning. The 26-year-old middle-of-the-order force has been on a tear lately, going deep six times over 17 games since September 1.

Closing Time

Kenley Jansen vs. Reds

0.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K (34th save)

Jansen was brought on to record the final out of the Dodgers’ four-run victory over the Reds on Saturday afternoon and was credited with his 34th save of the season since the tying run was in the on-deck circle. The 33-year-old veteran stopper has converted 34 of 39 save opportunities this season.

Michael Fulmer vs. Rays

1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K (10th save)

With Gregory Soto presumably unavailable after being struck by a 100 mph comebacker on Friday evening, Fulmer filled the void on Saturday afternoon against the Rays. The 28-year-old converted starter has nailed down 10 of his 14 save chances this year.

Tyler Clippard vs. Astros

1.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K (6th save)

Clippard was summoned to guard a three-run lead in the 10th inning on Saturday night and allowed an unearned run to cross the plate before slamming the door on the Astros. The 36-year-old veteran righty has been the undisputed stopper in Arizona recently, converting six of his nine save chances this season.

Joe Barlow

1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K (7th save)

Barlow came on to protect a one-run lead against the White Sox on Saturday night and needed just 14 pitches (10 strikes) to get the job done. The 25-year-old righty has reeled off seven consecutive scoreless appearances since September 1. He’s converted seven of his eight save chances this season.

Ian Kennedy vs. Mets

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

Kennedy spun a perfect ninth inning on Saturday evening, protecting a two-run lead against the Mets to notch his 24th save of the season. The 36-year-old righty has converted eight of his 11 save chances with the Phillies this year.

Giovanny Gallegos vs. Padres

1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K (9th save)

Gallegos eliminated any hope of a Padres’ comeback effort with a perfect ninth inning on Saturday night to collect his ninth save of the season. The 30-year-old righty has converted just nine of 17 save chances this season.

Josh Hader vs. Cubs

1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K (33rd save)

Hader made things interesting as a leadoff walk and one-out single put the tying runs on-base in the ninth inning on Saturday night, but he managed to whiff Willson Contreras and Patrick Wisdom to extinguish the threat. The 27-year-old lefty has converted 33 of 34 save opportunities this season.

Dominic Leone vs. Braves

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

Andrew Chafin vs. Angels

1.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K (5th save)

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EDGE Priority Pickup

Austin Hays, OF, Orioles

It's flown a bit under the radar, but Austin Hays has been one of the hottest hitters in the game over the last few weeks. The 26-year-old outfielder has been on a tear at the dish, going deep five times over his last eight games. He’s hitting 330. (30-for-91) with 17 runs scored, eight homers and 22 RBI across 24 games since August 24. He told reporters recently that he's finally feeling healthy again, crediting that as the main reason for his recent late-season offensive surge. Clearly, he's locked in at the dish and is worthy of a roster spot for fantasy managers in all formats.

American League Quick Hits: Rays are expected to call up Shane Baz on Monday for his major-league debut against the Blue Jays … Joey Gallo exited Saturday's game against Cleveland with neck tightness … Nelson Cruz (forearm) remained out of the Rays' starting lineup on Saturday against the Tigers … Rays placed Kevin Kiermaier on the COVID-19 injured list … Yankees manager Aaron Boone said Saturday that Luis Severino (shoulder) was in an "upbeat mood" and "excited" after throwing a simulated game on Friday … Jose Ramirez, Yu Chang and Andres Gimenez homered in Cleveland’s blowout victory over the Yankees … Rafael Devers went 3-for-5 with an RBI and three runs scored in the Red Sox’ lopsided win over the Orioles … Marcus Semien blasted his 40th home run of the season and Teoscar Hernandez drilled a three-run homer in the Blue Jays’ victory over the Twins … Jeimer Candelario walloped a three-run homer in the Tigers’ win over the Rays … DJ Peters hit a go-ahead RBI single and also stole a base to lead the Rangers past the White Sox … Michael Taylor went 2-for-4 with a solo homer and two RBI to push the Royals to a win over the Mariners … Matt Olson slugged his 36th round-tripper of the season in the Athletics’ win over the Angels … Yordan Alvarez clobbered a titanic two-run homer in the Astros’ extra-inning loss to the Diamondbacks … Yasmani Grandal swatted a solo homer and walked twice in the White Sox’ loss to the Rangers … Giancarlo Stanton belted his 30th homer of the season in the Yankees’ lopsided defeat at the hands of Cleveland … Cedric Mullins stole a pair of bases and Ryan Mountcastle clobbered his 30th home run in the Orioles’ blowout loss to the Red Sox … Josh Donaldson crunched a two-run homer in the Twins’ loss to the Blue Jays … Manuel Margot posted three hits and Jordan Luplow drilled a two-run homer in the Rays’ loss to the Tigers … Ty France went 2-for-3 with a walk in the Mariners’ loss to the Royals … James Kaprielian posted five strikeouts over six scoreless innings in a win over the Angels … Aaron Civale tossed six scoreless innings in a win over the Yankees … Steven Matz fanned five batters and gave up two runs over 5 2/3 innings in a win over the Twins … Kris Bubic walked four batters and allowed one run over 6 1/3 frames in a win over the Mariners … Lance McCullers Jr. posted eight strikeouts and yielded three runs (two earned) over six innings in a no-decision against the Diamondbacks … Tarik Skubal gave up two runs over three innings in a no-decision against the Rays … Nick Pivetta gave up three runs over 3 2/3 innings in a no-decision against the Orioles … Zac Lowther was tagged for three runs over 3 1/3 innings in a no-decision against the Red Sox … Spencer Howard tossed three scoreless innings in a no-decision against the White Sox … Jose Suarez surrendered three runs over 5 2/3 innings in a loss to the Athletics … Lance Lynn was charged with two runs (one earned) over 5 1/3 innings in a loss to the Rangers … Yusei Kikuchi surrendered three runs over three innings in a loss to the Royals … Ryan Yarbrough allowed four runs over six innings in a loss to the Tigers … Bailey Ober coughed up four runs over four innings in a loss to the Blue Jays … Luis Gil struck out six batters, issued four walks and surrendered three runs over 4 1/3 innings in a loss to Cleveland … Tanner Houck fanned three batters over 2 2/3 innings to pick up a win in relief against the Orioles.

National League Quick Hits: Reds placed Jesse Winker on the 10-day injured list with an intercostal strain … Chris Taylor (neck) and Gavin Lux (forearm) returned to the Dodgers’ starting lineup on Saturday against the Reds, but teammate Cody Bellinger was absent after being diagnosed with a non-displaced fracture in his left ribs … Rockies purchased the contract of Ryan Vilade from Triple-A Albuquerque … Jean Segura blasted a pair of solo homers to power the Phillies to a victory over the Mets … Trea Turner tallied two hits and stole his 30th base of the season in the Dodgers’ win over the Reds … Brendan Rogers went 3-for-5 with a two-run homer and Trevor Story walloped a three-run homer in the Rockies’ lopsided victory over the Nationals … Daulton Varsho drilled a go-ahead two-run homer, lifting the Diamondbacks to an extra-inning win over the Astros … Manny Pina walloped two homers to lift the Brewers to a victory over the Cubs … Curt Casali hit a two-run single to lift the Giants to a win over the Braves … Cole Tucker went 3-for-5 with a triple and an RBI in the Pirates’ win over the Marlins … Ian Happ went 3-for-5 with a two-run homer in the Cubs’ loss to the Brewers … Nick Fortes went 2-for-3 with a two-run homer in his major-league debut as the Marlins came up short in a loss to the Pirates … Brandon Nimmo went 2-for-4 with a solo homer in the Mets’ loss to the Phillies … Kyle Freeland recorded seven strikeouts over six scoreless innings in a win over the Nationals … Bryse Wilson allowed two runs over five innings in a win over the Marlins … Alex Wood struck out four batters over three perfect innings in a no-decision against the Braves … Adam Wainwright allowed two runs over six innings in a no-decision against the Padres … Justin Steele allowed two runs over four innings in a no-decision against the Brewers … Charlie Morton gave up two runs over six innings in a loss to the Giants … Edward Cabrera recorded seven strikeouts and was charged with three runs (zero earned) over four innings in a loss to the Pirates … Sonny Gray was charged with four runs (three earned) over six innings in a loss to the Dodgers … Carlos Carrasco gave up two runs over six innings in a loss to the Phillies … Humberto Castellanos gave up three runs over five innings in a no-decision against the Astros … Patrick Corbin was charged with six runs (five earned) across four innings in a loss to the Rockies.