LEADING OFF: Hitters slumping, cutdown day, Scherzer’s exit

A look at what’s happening around the majors on Thursday:

OFF BASE

Star hitters Christian Yelich, Gary Sanchez, Hunter Pence and others are slumping badly in a season where hitters across the majors are struggling to find base hits. The league-wide batting average entering Wednesday’s games was .232, down from .252 last year. It’s the lowest mark ever, below the .237 average posted in 1968, despite the addition of the designated hitter to the NL.

CUT DAY

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Cuts are coming for players around the majors as teams trim their active rosters from 30 players to 28, per plans agreed to by MLB and the union before the start of this virus-shortened 60-game season. The sides decided Tuesday that rosters will remain at 28 through the World Series, instead of dropping to 26 on Aug. 20 as initially planned.

STRUGGLING SCHERZER

The Nationals will see how Max Scherzer is feeling, a day after the three-time Cy Young Award winner exited a start after just one inning because of trouble with his right hamstring.

Scherzer threw 27 pitches against the Mets and labored, his fastball in the low 90s mph. He said his hamstring problem first showed up a week ago, went away, then showed up again Tuesday when he was sprinting.

The Nationals already are missing World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg, who has a nerve issue in his pitching hand.

NICE START

Kenta Maeda (2-0, 1.64 ERA) will try to remain unbeaten since being traded from the Dodgers to Minnesota in the offseason. The 32-year-old right-hander has helped the Twins open up quick this year. He pitches at PNC Park, with Pirates rookie JT Brubaker making his first major league start.

CATCH-UP CARDS

The Cardinals expect to have another workout at Busch Stadium while getting ready to resume their virus-interrupted season. St. Louis hasn’t played since June 29 — at 2-3, its next game is scheduled for Friday night at home against the Cubs.

Quarantined in Milwaukee earlier this week after 13 positive COVID-19 tests in their traveling party — All-Stars Yadier Molina and Paul DeJong among them — the Cardinals returned to St. Louis on Wednesday and held a light workout.

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