Max Scherzer struggled on the mound, giving up eight hits, two walks and five runs in five innings in what ended up a 5-1 loss to the Miami Marlins last week.
"Physically, he was fine," Dusty Baker told reporters after the outing in Marlins Park.
"He was just out of sync. And sometimes that happens. And Max will be fine, we're not worried about Max, and I just hope Max isn't worried about Max."
Scherzer said he wasn't finishing his pitches, and was missing locations, which will happen on occasion.
"Sometimes that happens, and you tip your cap and move on," he explained.
"But I'm also aware of myself and I'm aware of what I do well, and I generate swings and misses, and the swing and misses aren't there and I feel like that's a lack of me just finishing my pitches and coming up with the right sequence."
"This is not a mechanical breakdown, this is not anything that's going to take a month to do, this is just, 'Hey, here it is,' adjust and let's go. I can take a punch on the chin, come right back out and keep fighting. I've done it plenty of times in my career, and I understand what you have to do. You just have to own it and for the next four days go out there and do your work so you can go out there and have success."
Scherzer gave up three runs in the bottom of the first in that outing, on a three-run home run by Marcell Ozuna which drove in the fourth, fifth and sixth runs Scherzer allowed in the first inning of his first four starts of 2016.
Opposing hitters were 7 for 19 (.368/.455/.789) with six runs scored in the first innings of his starts and six scored total in the other 21 innings Scherzer completed five innings on the mound on the year after facing the Marlins.
"Most good pitchers, or great pitchers, they usually struggle in the first inning and if they get out of that first inning, then they're usually off to the races," Baker told reporters before last night's start for Scherzer against Philadelphia.
The Phillies scored two in the top of the first on a two-run home run by Andres Blanco and added a run in the fourth inning of Scherzer's six-inning outing, which saw him give up seven hits total, the three runs, and four walks.
Scherzer threw 116 pitches total in the losing effort.
"He wasn't sharp. He wasn't sharp early," Baker said after the game.
"I mean, he had a hundred [and sixteen] pitches in six innings and that's kind of been his nemesis lately is just throwing a lot of pitches in a short period of time. And we've got to find a way to get him out there deeper in the game.
"He's our ace and our No. 1 so we'll help him figure it out."
Scherzer's four walks matched his total for the entire month of April last season, and frustrated the right-hander.
"I walked four guys tonight," Scherzer told reporters, including MASNSports.com's Mark Zuckerman. "That’s just unacceptable."
"This is the opposite of what I heard and what he talks about, walking guys," Baker said. "He was upset with himself for walking guys, because he's not used to that. Like I said, things go in streaks sometimes and I'm sure [pitching coach] Mike [Maddux] is trying and I'm sure Scherzer is trying to figure it out. The reason for it, I couldn't tell you, I don't know."
Scherzer's velocity this season has been in range of his career norms, but the command isn't where he wants it to be.
Baker said he's not sure what to make of the slow start.
"I don't have anything to compare with," he told reporters.
"I'm still relatively new here, I've seen him pitch a half a dozen times. And I don't know if Mike has anything to really compare with other than some video. He watches video on the pitchers, exclusively, so you'd have to ask Scherzer and Mike that."
Scherzer maintained that he still thinks all that's needed is a minor mechanical adjustment to get things going right.
"Everything is not broke," Scherzer said. "This isn’t a time where you just beat everything around and throw your glove around. The pitches are there. It’s just a little fine-tuning. That’s the difference between dominance and being average at this level. It can be that fine of a difference."
"At the end of the day, this is an easy thing to correct. This is just a minor tweak."
Scherzer was up to 97 pitches after five, but he went back out for a 19-pitch sixth that spared the Nationals' bullpen extra work.
"We needed him to get through it, No.1, because it's putting pressure on my bullpen," Baker explained when asked about sending Scherzer back for the sixth.
"We just -- even though we had a day off yesterday -- we just came off an extra inning game where I used all my guys.
"We never even discussed it and Scherzer never even expected not to go out there. Sometimes you know and sometimes you hope that he gets through it."
Scherzer got through the sixth, but through five starts the season, the 31-year-old righty has a 4.35 ERA, a 4.52 FIP, 12 walks (3.48 BB/9 up from 1.34 on the year in 2015) and 30 Ks (8.71 K/9 down from 10.86 last season) in 31 IP.
Surely it's not the start to the season Scherzer was hoping for in his second campaign in the nation's capital. Will he turn it around next time out?