Scherzer incident, return of rain leave pitching plan up in air

The Nationals aren’t announcing their pitching plan for Wednesday’s doubleheader just yet, for multiple reasons. Including the suddenly unknown status of their ace after he bunted a ball off his face today.

Max Scherzer, presumed to be starting one of the games of the day-night doubleheader against the Phillies, was taking batting practice on the field this afternoon when he bunted a ball that then struck his face. The right-hander returned to the clubhouse alongside director of athletic training Paul Lessard, with blood visible around his nose, and retreated to the training room for treatment.

Scherzer-Grimace-White-sidebar.jpg“He’s back there right now with Paul,” manager Davey Martinez said during his pregame media session. “I haven’t checked in on him. As soon as I’m done here, I’m going to go back and check on him.”

Scherzer is slated to start one of Wednesday’s game on his normal turn in the rotation, though the Nationals hadn’t decided yet whether he’d take the mound for the 1:05 p.m. opener or the 7:05 p.m. nightcap.

“We’re going to talk to him, see which game he’s going to pitch,” Martinez said.

Assuming Scherzer is fine to start one game, the Nationals would then need to choose between either Erick Fedde (originally scheduled to start tonight) or a call-up from Triple-A Fresno like Austin Voth (who last pitched for the Grizzlies on Thursday).

Either way, there’s a good chance Voth is on his way to Washington to serve as the 26th man for the doubleheader, given his ability to pitch multiple innings in relief if Fedde starts.

Joe Ross, the most experienced starter in the club’s farm system, pitched five scoreless innings Monday night, so the soonest he could pitch for the Nationals would be Saturday against the Braves.

“We have to get through tonight first before we decide anything,” Martinez said.

Amidst all of these different scenarios is the uncertainty about the weather, which could make it all moot. With another round of storms now sweeping through the area and forcing at least a delayed start to tonight’s game, and with more rain in the forecast Wednesday and Thursday, there’s a reasonable chance these teams won’t be able to play the entire four-game series.

In other news, Ryan Zimmerman ran the bases today for the first time since his rehab from plantar faciitis in his right foot was halted two weeks ago. The injured first baseman is scheduled to go through the drill again Wednesday, after which he could be sent out on a minor league rehab assignment.

Zimmerman has been on the injured list since April 28.

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