Max Scherzer hopes to make his next scheduled start, but the Nationals ace admitted today he’ll need to be able to complete a bullpen session Monday without being too restricted by his tweaked groin muscle in order to avoid a short stint on the injured list.
“That I can definitely say: I have to be able to throw a bullpen tomorrow if I’m going to make the start,” Scherzer said in a brief on-field interview shortly after he played catch prior to today’s series finale against the Giants. “If I can’t throw a bullpen tomorrow, then you’re looking at an IL stint. Miss one start. That’s the math here.”
Scherzer hurt himself in the top of the first Friday night, feeling a twinge on his 12th pitch of the game. After stretching his legs, he attempted to make a warm-up toss but immediately realized he shouldn’t continue and departed the game.
The Nationals are getting through the rest of this series with starts by Erick Fedde, Joe Ross and Jefry Rodriguez (who was promoted from Triple-A Rochester to pitch the second half of Saturday’s doubleheader). And they’ve got Jon Lester and Patrick Corbin lined up to start Monday and Tuesday against the Pirates.
That leaves Wednesday’s series finale against Pittsburgh up in the air. Scherzer would make that start if healthy. If not, the Nats would need to find a replacement from a thinning pool of candidates, perhaps going again with Paolo Espino (who threw 50 pitches in emergency relief of Scherzer on Friday).
Scherzer certainly will want to push himself to make the start himself, though the 36-year-old did acknowledge some hesitation in discussing how he feels today. His throwing session in right field didn’t include any throws with 100 percent effort.
He understands the importance of feeling healthy in his legs to be able to pitch with confidence he won’t be risky further injury.
“The groin muscle is critical to driving through the ball,” he said. “I don’t know if I can find a patch around that mechanically. Like, just unload this and you’re able to pitch through it. It’s not really a ‘pitch-through’ injury.”
If, however, Scherzer can’t make the start Wednesday and needs to go on the 10-day IL, he’s confident he wouldn’t need to miss more than one turn through the rotation.
“This isn’t a major injury,” he said. “It’s a minor injury, no matter what.”
Shortly after Scherzer was finished playing catch today, Austin Voth emerged from the dugout and made his way to the bullpen to throw off the mound for the first time since suffering his frightening injury one week ago in Philadelphia.
Voth, who broke his nose in multiple places after getting hit by a pitch and required surgery to re-set the nose, remains on the IL and isn’t eligible to return until Thursday at the earliest. But the fact he was able to throw off the mound already bodes well for his recovery.