WASHINGTON -- So, it’s settled: Max Scherzer will pitch Thursday.
The Nationals’ best pitcher played catch in right field Tuesday. He felt well a day after a full bullpen session. He, finally, is aligned to make his first start since July 6.
Why Thursday? Well, this is where things are more interesting. Davey Martinez and his staff mapped out Scherzer’s possible starts from Thursday to the end of the season to see how he lines up if he would pitch every fifth game (not every fifth day because of scheduled off-days). If he pitches Thursday, this is how the rest of his season would look:
July 25 vs. Colorado
July 30 vs. Atlanta
Aug. 5 at San Francisco
Aug. 11 at New York
Aug. 17 vs. Milwaukee
Aug. 22 at Pittsburgh
Aug. 28 vs. Baltimore
Sept. 5 vs. New York
Sept. 8 at Atlanta
Sept. 14 vs. Atlanta
Sept. 20 at Miami
Sept. 25 vs. Philadelphia
Oct. 1 Wild-Card Game
Note three appearances against the first-place Braves. Consider a late-September start against Philadelphia. Then, of course, being on an extra day of rest should the wild-card game be necessary.
“You know Max,” Martinez said. “He wants to pitch today. He wants to pitch tomorrow. He wants to pitch Friday, Saturday, Sunday.”
Can things go wrong between now and then? Yes. A rainout could move Scherzer around. A recurrence of the mid-back strain which put him on the 10-day injured list July 13, retroactive to July 10, could happen. But, the Nationals took the time to map this out when considering whether Scherzer will pitch Thursday opposite Colorado or Friday against the mighty Los Angeles Dodgers.
One wrinkle in this projection: The final series of the season is at Nationals Park versus Cleveland. The Indians start play Tuesday just three games out of the division lead in the American League Central and two ahead for a wild-card spot. Which means Cleveland could be playing for everything (from the division title, to hosting the wild-card game, to just getting into the postseason) or nothing because it has clinched a spot. Scherzer would not be on schedule for that series.
More immediately, Monday’s rainout forced the Nationals to massage their rotation. Erick Fedde was moved from Monday’s start to the first game of Wednesday’s split day-night doubleheader. Anibal Sanchez will pitch Friday. Joe Ross is expected to fill the open spot Saturday. Patrick Corbin, Scherzer and Sanchez will line up to face Atlanta when it visits next week.
There was one other starting pitcher issue exposed Tuesday. Austin Voth (right biceps tendinitis) has stopped throwing. He will have an MRI this week and his future is to be determined. Not so for Scherzer. He's expected back Thursday, then Oct. 1, if necessary.
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