WASHINGTON -- Everything looked normal Monday: Max Scherzer in full uniform went to right field for his warmup throws, then walked into the Nationals’ bullpen for a full pitching session. He briefly lingered to talk it over with the regular denizens of the bullpen before exiting through the back entrance and looping back to the clubhouse.
It went well. He feels good. The expectation is he will start a game “at the end of the week,” according to Davey Martinez. Scherzer declined to put a projection forth. He’s just pleased to feel well.
“I’m getting through the ball,” Scherzer said. “I feel great. I feel 100 percent. The ball is coming out 100 percent. It’s just a matter of making sure I got all of the feel for all the executions.”
Per usual, The Next Day is at issue. Scherzer expects no problems because he threw from a mound Saturday and felt “nothing” Sunday. If he comes in Tuesday feeling good, everything should be set for possibly Thursday to return and wrap a four-game series with Colorado.
Scherzer thought he could pitch Sunday in Atlanta. He suggested as much to Martinez and others. Mike Rizzo, Martinez and team medical staff told him no.
“[I asked], but it wouldn’t have been smart,” Scherzer said. “You need to see me off the mound. Can’t take that chance. I always want to pitch. If this was Sept. 28, I think, yeah, they would have let me go. But when you have so much season left. You can’t take that risk. So...I get it. If I ever think I can pitch, I’m always going to want to pitch. That’s why the ball’s in the trainer’s court, the ball’s in Rizzo’s court, the ball’s in Dr. [Robin] West’s court. They have to make that call. They didn’t make that call. I completely get why.”
A cortisone shot received seven days ago has proven effective. As has advice from former teammate Shawn Kelley, who had the same injury -- inflammation of his bursa sac below his right scapula -- three days before Scherzer. They talked, the shot was recommended and it helped right on time.
Scherzer said he has an idea what caused the issue, but chose not to disclose it. Though, he was adamant it has nothing to do with his workload this season.
Despite not pitching since July 6, Scherzer still leads the National League in strikeouts. He remains a top-tier Cy Young candidate. He also is desperately needed by a Nationals team which suddenly has a bit of disarray percolating in their rotation.
Assuming Scherzer is ready to return, the Nationals need to sort out the fifth spot in their rotation. Erick Fedde was scheduled to pitch Monday before the game was postponed by Major League Baseball because of inclement weather a day after Joe Ross put together a reasonable start in Atlanta. Austin Voth (right biceps tendinitis) remains on the 10-day injured list and is building strength in his arm. He expected to throw Monday.
The next two days are mostly lined up: Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin will pitch. Fedde could pitch the 1:05 p.m. start of Wednesday's split day-night doubleheader. If Scherzer pitches Thursday, Anibal Sanchez would be bumped to Friday to open the series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Nationals could pitch Scherzer on Friday -- keeping Sanchez on turn -- and still have him to close the three-game series against Atlanta next week.
"[Tuesday] will be a big day,” Martinez said. “If Max comes in and says he has no issues, we’ll go from there.”
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