Max Scherzer will depart for Cleveland after today’s first-half finale and participate in All-Star festivities, but he won’t pitch in Tuesday’s Midsummer Classic because of a stiff back he says has bothered him during each of his last two starts.
Scherzer doesn’t consider the injury serious, and he will make his second-half debut next Sunday in Philadelphia, but after he met with manager Davey Martinez and general manager Mike Rizzo on Saturday evening, the group decided the Nationals ace would sit out this week’s exhibition.
“We all kind of huddled around and realized it’s probably not smart for me to be pitching in the All-Star Game,” the right-hander said. “It really couldn’t happen at a better time, where I can get some rest and get eight days now. 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.”
Major League Baseball announced late Saturday night that Reds right-hander Sonny Gray would replace Scherzer on the National League pitching staff. Scherzer, though, said he’s still going to Cleveland, along with his eldest daughter, Brooklyn, while his wife, Erica, and their just-born daughter, Kacey, stay home.
“This is going to be fun,” he said. “I get to take Brook, and I get to represent the Washington Nationals. It’s really a cool honor. It’s a really cool 48 hours. For me, I still really wanted to go and partake in everything that’s there, especially be there for the Home Run Derby and the game. I get to take my daughter, so it’s going to be fun.”
Scherzer said he first began feeling tightness in his back after last Sunday’s start at Detroit. He received treatment during the week and felt fine to start Saturday against the Royals. He’s still not 100 percent, though it’s hard to find any negative effect on his performance: Over these last two starts, he’s allowed one run in 15 innings, striking out 25 while walking one batter.
“I was able to treat it, I was able to take the mound and be able to pitch 100 pitches,” he said. “It was just something where I just can tell. I know my body pretty well. I just know I’m not going to be at my best if I try to pitch on two days’ rest, and I would really jeopardize our season if I were to try to do something like that. For me, right now, I know my body needs rest. That’s all I need.”
Martinez hasn’t revealed the club’s full rotation plans coming out of the break, but he already revealed Scherzer will start Sunday against the Phillies. Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin figure to start the first two games at Citizens Bank Park, in one order or the other.
Scherzer will end up the only Nationals player in Cleveland, with fellow All-Star Anthony Rendon electing to stay in Washington over the break to get treatment on his ailing left hamstring and quadriceps. Which means no members of the team will be playing in Tuesday night’s game, an unfortunate development but one club officials insist is for the best.
“Hey, it’s a grueling season,” Martinez said. “These guys, both Anthony and Max, are All-Stars. They deserve to be there. We talked about Anthony’s injury, and now we’re talking about Max’s injury. They chose it’s best for them to rest. I said this yesterday about Anthony: It stinks. And I’ll say it again about Max: It stinks. But we came to the conclusion that rest would be good for both of them.”