Max Scherzer built his arm up this afternoon in his second simulated game of the week, throwing 64 pitches over four innings. And as long as he recovers well from this latest throwing session, the Nationals ace will be lined up to return to the rotation next week in Pittsburgh.
Scherzer looked strong and felt strong during today’s four-inning simulated game against teammates, according to manager Davey Martinez. Facing Gerardo Parra and Yan Gomes, he threw an average of 16 pitches per inning, taking 10-minute breaks in between, and stalked off the field at the end giving fist bumps to others in the dugout before heading down the stairs toward the clubhouse.
“He felt good,” Martinez said. “He’s a little bit ornery, but that’s a good thing. Now we’ll see how he feels tomorrow.”
Ornery because he didn’t like how he threw today? No. Ornery because he wanted to be throwing tonight to the Brewers instead of this afternoon to teammates.
“Of course,” Martinez said. “He wants to be on the mound. He wants to help us win. But this is part of it. He’s going to help us win. This is part of it. And hopefully, tomorrow he wakes up, feels really good, and then we’ll go from there.”
Though Martinez didn’t explicitly say it, all signs now point to Scherzer returning from the injured list to start Thursday’s series finale against the Pirates at PNC Park. Assuming he feels fine Sunday, Scherzer will throw his standard between-starts bullpen session Monday in Pittsburgh, then take the mound for real three days later.
“We’re trying to schedule everything as if today he pitched,” Martinez said. “He’s got five days. So he’ll be on his regular routine.”
Scherzer won’t be given free rein when he returns. His pitch count will be restricted, likely in the 75-80 range. But his expected return nonetheless will be an extremely welcome development for the Nationals, who have seen their three-time Cy Young Award winner make only one start since July 6 due to a pair of upper back ailments.
“I can’t wait,” Martinez said. “I want to see Max Scherzer on the mound pitching for the Nationals. He’s never had this before. It’s something new for him. So we’re all anxious for him to get back on the mound and help us win.”