The Nationals have won three straight games and five of their last seven. While they still remain 7.5 games back of the first-place Mets, Washington is beginning to play some of its best baseball of the season.
But, as the Nationals continue to climb out of their early-season hole, they'll have to do so without their top two starting pitchers. Stephen Strasburg remains on the Injured List with a nerve issue in his shoulder, while Max Scherzer was just added to the IL this week with a tweaked groin.
On Wednesday, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo joined the Sports Junkies and provided updates on both aces as to when they might return to the Nationals' rotation.
First, the good news, which pertains to Scherzer.
"With Max, it's much simpler. He tweaked his groin. He felt that he could possibly pitch through it," Rizzo said. "But we felt since it's only June, we didn't need him to gut through it and maybe hurt himself further. We're hoping after the 10 days he's ready to pitch."
Rizzo also said that Scherzer's arm remains in "good shape" because he's still been able to throw, even with his groin injury. The three-time Cy Young winner was placed on the IL retroactive to June 12, meaning he could return to action as early as next week.
With Strasburg, unfortunately for Washington, his injury is a bit more complicated.
Rizzo said the injury is similar to one the ace dealt with in 2018, where he had two separate stints on the IL with both right shoulder inflammation and nerve damage.
"He's seeing a doctor out in LA to get a diagnosis and he got that," Rizzo said. "We're sending him to a specialist in Dallas. He's in the midst of we're getting information, trying to figure out how to stop this thing so it doesn't keep reoccurring."
Rizzo compared Strasburg's injury to his 2018 one multiple times but said it's good news that this one is a nerve issue, rather than one in his elbow that would cause him to miss significant time. In 2018, after Strasburg eventually got healthy, he finished the season with eight straight starts without a loss.
"Once we figure this thing out, a lot like 2018, we'll get him back, built up and start pitching again," Rizzo said.