Ken Rosenthal looks at the durability of Nationals ace Max Scherzer, who has had just one arm-related DL stint in his career (shoulder soreness in 2009) and leads all Major League pitchers in innings pitched across the past three seasons. Rosenthal spoke to Scherzer himself, former D-backs GM Josh Byrnes, former Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski (now in Boston) and Nationals GM Mike Rizzo (Arizona’s scouting director when the D-backs drafted Scherzer) about the two-time Cy Young winner. Byrnes said Scherzer deserves credit for being “very developmentally minded” as a prospect. “He wanted to find out what he needed to do to be the best version of himself, not take what was the quickest path to the big leagues,” said Byrnes. Rizzo noted that many perceived it as an overdraft when the Diamondbacks plucked him out of Missouri at No. 11 overall in 2006 and lauded Scherzer’s arm action, pitching IQ and demeanor on the mound. Scherzer offered some interesting insight on the toll that increasing workloads can take on a developing arm as well, making for a very interesting read.
Elsewhere in the NL East…
- The Mets are “strongly” considering right-hander Seth Lugo for a relief role if he doesn’t claim the final spot in the rotation, tweets Mike Puma of the New York Post. While there’s been some thought that either Lugo or Robert Gsellman could head back to Triple-A to continue to work as a starter, but Puma notes that the bullpen is New York’s most pressing concern at the moment. The 27-year-old Lugo made his MLB debut last season and showed quite well, tossing 64 innings with a 2.67 ERA, 6.3 K/9, 3.0 BB/9 and a 42.8 percent ground-ball rate in 17 appearances — nine of which came out of the ’pen.
- Left-hander Eric O’Flaherty has rediscovered some of the sink on his fastball in Spring Training and, with righties Chaz Roe and Blaine Boyer struggling, has emerged as a legitimate option to break camp with the Braves, writes MLB.com’s Mark Bowman. “He’s throwing some good breaking balls and his fastball has a little more life than it did,” manager Brian Snitker tells Bowman. “We just need to stay with him. I think he feels good, so that’s just a good thing to just keep him out there. I think he’s feeling healthy for the first time in a while.”
- Looking to the bench competition that is ongoing in Atlanta, Bowman tweets that the only two locks for bench spots at this moment are backup catcher Kurt Suzuki and utilityman Jace Peterson. The Braves are said to be eyeing a right-handed-hitting fourth outfielder that can handle center and have several other candidates in camp vying for bench roles (as can be seen on their depth chart at Roster Resource).
- Though the Marlins have a notoriously weak farm system, Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald spoke to a number of rival scouts and evaluators about which Miami farmhands could potentially make a Major League impact in 2017. The three most common responses for Spencer were right-hander Dillon Peters, infielder J.T. Riddle and right-hander Drew Steckenrider. Though small in stature, Peters has racked up impressive performances in the minors over the past two seasons and reached Double-A as a 23-year-old last year. Riddle, a glove-first infielder, could help the team’s bench/defense despite a light bat. And Steckenrider scrapped starting after Tommy John surgery and returned with a 100 mph heater out of the ’pen. Of course, as Spencer notes, with the Marlins’ deep bullpen, it could take awhile for him to be a big league factor.