Neither Nationals manager Davey Martinez nor Max Scherzer believe the mild right triceps discomfort that caused the right-hander to be scratched from Saturday’s starting assignment against the Orioles is anything serious. But out of an abundance of caution - which might as well be baseball’s unofficial motto for 2021 - the Nats opted to let Scherzer rest and chose lefty Jon Lester to start the middle game of the three-game interleague series at Camden Yards.
Martinez said Scherzer first felt the discomfort after taking batting practice a couple of days ago, and when it didn’t immediately subside, the manager alerted Lester that he’d be the backup plan in case Scherzer had to be shelved.
“He came off and said his tricep was bothering him,” Martinez said of Scherzer in his pregame Zoom session with reporters Saturday afternoon. “He had some mild discomfort in his tricep. We talked it through. As you know, Max, he wanted to try the best he can to make his start today. And yesterday, we talked a little bit more and I decided that, hey, maybe it’s best not to go.”
Scherzer was sent Friday for an MRI that came back “extremely clean,” according to Martinez. At this point, it appears Scherzer will avoid a trip to the injured list.
“He’s assuming and expecting to make his next start, and so am I,” the manager said.
Martinez said the fact that the issue stemmed from swinging rather than throwing didn’t factor into the Nationals’ reaction.
“It’s still discomfort in his throwing arm,” Martinez said. “Whether it was from swinging or throwing, for me, it’s relatively all the same. The good thing, like I said, is the MRI came back extremely clean and everything. So I’m not really concerned about it, I’m really not. .. I talked to him about maybe him being fatigued in his right arm and triceps. So we’re going to look at it that way and see how he feels coming into tomorrow.”
Scherzer told reporters in Baltimore that he’d need to throw a bullpen session without any pain before he makes his next start, which could come during a four-game series in Philadelphia that begins Monday. Martinez said right-hander Paolo Espino would pitch Sunday’s finale in Baltimore, but he hadn’t yet made up his mind about the starter for Monday’s opener at Citizens Bank Park.
“I gave Lester a heads-up yesterday just in case (Scherzer) couldn’t go today,” Martinez said. “I talked to Lester and he was good to go. We’re trying to give these guys and extra day. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way.”
Scherzer spent time on the injured list earlier this season with groin inflammation, and with the July 30 trade deadline looming, his name has been widely speculated as someone that the Nats might move if they don’t start to cut into the lead of the Mets in the National League East. Washington entered play today in fourth place in the division, seven games behind the Mets. The Nats are 11 games out of the second wild card spot in the NL.
Scherzer is 7-4 with a 2.83 ERA, a 0.886 WHIP and 14 strikeouts in 105 innings this season. He has won his last three decisions and has a 3.79 ERA over his past seven starts, a number that was skewed by the seven runs he allowed in 3 2/3 innings in San Diego on July 8.