There has not been a sighting of Max Scherzer on a mound since he donned that throwback Expos uniform before the All-Star break. Scherzer has skipped two starts, but he threw a bullpen session today and stated that he felt 100%. If he wakes up tomorrow and still feels 100%, it would make more sense to pitch him on Thursday and then again on Tuesday against the Atlanta Braves. Tonight’s postponement could give the Nationals an advantage in the series since Joe Ross and Erick Fedde are still on the roster, and with a doubleheader on Wednesday, the Nationals will need six starting pitchers in five days. After that, the Nationals could use the day-off to skip the #5 spot in the rotation.
Scherzer has been suffering from scapulothoracic bursitis and received a cortisone shot last Monday. With his bullpen session today, he likes to pitch three days afterwards which would line him up for Thursday in the finale of this four-game Colorado series at Nationals Park.
“Tomorrow will be a big day if Max comes in and says he has no issues then we’ll go from there,” said manager Dave Martinez. “If he feels good, then he’ll pitch at the end of this week sometime.”
The Nationals could decide to go with Scherzer on Friday against the Dodgers and again on the following Wednesday against the Braves, but we penciled together some matchups that might make more sense.
Against Dodgers: Friday: Anibal Sanchez Saturday: Joe Ross Sunday: Stephen Strasburg
Against Braves: Monday: Patrick Corbin Tues: Max Scherzer Wed: Anibal Sanchez
Day off: Thursday: —
If you go with this rotation configuration, Fedde could be sent to the Minors for Scherzer to come off the 10-day IL on Thursday. You can figure Kyle McGowin will stay in town for the doubleheader on Wednesday as the 26th man. Of course all of this hinges on the availability of Max Scherzer.
“I’m really anxious. I really want to get going,” Scherzer said. “Everything feels good. Ball is coming out of my hand exactly the way it should feel like. I’m at 100 percent. Hopefully, I can pitch here really soon. I hope for the sooner the better. I don’t know. That’s [management’s] call, but the sooner the better.”
It is believed according to Scherzer that there was no real impact on his muscles or his strength, and that is obviously good news. His stamina might not be there which might make a Thursday start a better move then Friday against the Dodgers.
“I was able to keep my strength, and that’s just from all the work that you do as a pitcher every five days,” Scherzer said. “Your scaps are such a huge part in maintaining your strength from the back side, so that you keep your shoulder healthy. This injury was unrelated to the actual muscles. This was bursitis, which was completely different from dealing with any tendinitis or muscle-type things.”
As Scherzer often says, he knows his own body, and you hope he does. Bursitis is painful, and you do not want a reoccurrence of this issue as you want it to be a one-time thing with Scherzer.
With the trade deadline at T-10 days, the Nationals could surprise us all with an acquisition of a #5 pitcher which could change everything. Speaking of the trade deadline, Rizzo was asked about adding a lefty bat to the mix. The team called up Andrew Stevenson today to replace the injured Ryan Zimmerman, but the team could use a utility infielder who can play all positions and the Blue Jays have that guy in Eric Sogard. If you heard Mike Rizzo speak last week, you hope he realizes the Nationals are 11th from the bottom in OPS (.734) against right-handed pitching while the team is 4th best against left-handed pitching (843).
“It’s something that we look at,” Rizzo said, but, “We like our left-handed depth on the roster. When you have Soto and Eaton in your everyday starting lineup and Matt Adams and Gerardo Parra on the bench, I think that really bodes well for us as far as left-handed hitters on the roster, so I think that we’re fairly covered there, you can’t say what we’re looking for, because something may pop up that makes sense for us that we’re not really thinking about right now.”
“But our priority is going to be pitching, and probably bullpen arms that can give us some veteran leadership and possibly shorten the game up for our starting rotation.”
Absolutely some bullpen arm(s) are the priority of an acquisition, but the lefty bat who dominates right-handed pitching can be a low-cost acquisition. The weak links against right-handed pitching starts with Yan Gomes and his .177 batting average, Ryan Zimmerman who is on the 10-day IL is batting below Mendoza, and Brian Dozier is slightly above Mendoza at .207. Putting Adams back at first base will solve one issue, but getting Sogard to give Dozier some days off as well as Trea Turner and Anthony Rendon makes too much sense.
This is a big week for the Nationals and getting Max Scherzer back on the mound and with less than ten days remaining before the trade deadline, Mike Rizzo and staff could be sequestered inside their “war room” at Nationals Park working on strategic trade acquisitions .