MIAMI — Max Scherzer’s right thumb remains swollen, enough that the Nationals ace couldn’t throw his standard between-starts bullpen session Saturday, leaving his status for his next start somewhat in question.
Scherzer was jammed while hitting during Thursday’s game against the Cardinals. He remained in the game for two more innings but was pulled with his pitch count at 82 in part because he felt he wasn’t getting a good grip on the ball.
Like most pitchers, Scherzer throws off a bullpen mound two days after a start. But he wasn’t able to take the mound Saturday afternoon at Marlins Park. He’ll try again before Sunday’s game.
“Still a little sore and swollen, so we pushed his bullpen a day to try to get the rest out of there,” manager Matt Williams said. “We’ll see how it goes after that, but it’s swollen.”
Williams said no X-rays are needed on Scherzer’s thumb, only time to let the swelling go down. But the Nationals won’t let him take the mound for another start — he’s next scheduled to go Tuesday in Atlanta — until he has shown he can throw all his pitches with no issues.
“Yeah, he’d need to throw,” Williams said. “We need to make sure sure he can effectively throw all of his pitches. And there’s only one way to do that: Get him out on a mound.”
If Scherzer isn’t able to do that in time to start Tuesday night, the Nationals would face a dilemma. Tanner Roark hasn’t been stretched out and probably couldn’t be counted on for more than about four innings in a spot start. But to call up a starter from Class AAA Syracuse, the club would need either to send someone else down or place Scherzer on the 15-day disabled list, forcing him to miss three starts.
No matter what, the Nationals don’t seem inclined to take a chance on pitching Scherzer before he’s absolutely ready to go again.
“What we don’t want is for him to go out there, even in a side (session), and adjust his grip or adjust the way he throws and have something else go haywire,” Williams said. “We don’t want that. We’ll get the swelling out of there and make sure he’s fully OK before he does it. We’ll see how it is tomorrow.”
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