Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer will miss his scheduled start Sunday against the Philadelphia Phillies as he deals with “mid-back” tightness, Manager Dave Martinez said Friday. Veteran Aníbal Sánchez will start in his place. It’s unclear when Scherzer will make his next start.
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“Right now, coming off the break, everybody’s strong and healthy, and we can figure this out,” Martinez said.
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The Nationals are off Monday before going to Baltimore for two games, but Martinez said his probable pitchers for both are “up in the air.” On Friday, Scherzer threw from as far as 75 feet, felt good and later spoke with Martinez. Still, the Nationals decided to push Scherzer’s start back “a couple days and see how he feels.”
“You know Max, he always feels like he’s ready to go,” Martinez said. “But we have to do the smart thing here.
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Over the break, Scherzer got an MRI exam on his back that came back “clean,” Martinez said. If Scherzer started Tuesday, he could still start on Sunday against the Atlanta Braves on regular four days rest.
On Friday morning, the Nationals called up right-hander Kyle McGowin from Class AA Harrisburg, but he’s expected to work out of the bullpen. Two potential spot starters, Austin Voth and Erick Fedde, are in Harrisburg, while another, Joe Ross, is at Class AAA Fresno.
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Scherzer said he first felt sore after his second-to-last start of the first half against the Detroit Tigers. He received treatment and felt good enough to take the ball last Saturday against the Kansas City Royals, striking out 11 in the 6-0 win. Later, though, Scherzer felt his back tighten and spoke with Nats General Manager Mike Rizzo and Martinez. The 34-year-old right-hander later withdrew from the All-Star Game
“It really couldn’t happen at a better time where I can get some rest on eight days now,” Scherzer said Sunday . “I need some rest right now to let this thing fully heal up so that I’m completely good to go for the second half.”
In his past nine starts, Scherzer has a 0.84 ERA with 94 strikeouts and just nine walks in 64 innings. He is regarded as one of the more durable pitchers in the league, even in the back half of his career, and has thrown more than 200 innings in each of his last six seasons. The last time he made fewer than 30 starts was in 2008, when he was a rookie with the Arizona Diamondbacks. He leads the National League with 129⅓ innings, well on pace to break 200 if he remains healthy, so the Nationals are making sure they’re careful coming out of the break
Scherzer was originally scheduled to have eight days of rest, four more than normal, between outings. Now he’s guaranteed even more with the rotation set for the weekend series in Philadelphia
“He’s been on an unbelievable run, and we’re just trying to take care of him,” Martinez said
Trea Turner, SS
Adam Eaton, RF
Anthony Rendon, 3B
Juan Soto, LF
Ryan Zimmerman, 1B
Brian Dozier, 2B
Kurt Suzuki, C
Victor Robles, CF
Stephen Strasburg, RHP
Scott Kingery, CF
Jean Segura, SS
Bryce Harper, RF
Rhys Hoskins, 1B
Jay Bruce, LF
Cesar Hernandez, 2B
Maikel Franco, 3B
Andrew Knapp, C
Nick Pivetta, RHP
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Sam Fortier Sam Fortier is a sports reporter for The Washington Post. Follow
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