Unbeaten in his last nine starts, over which he went (4-0) with a 2.56 ERA, 15 walks, 75 Ks, and a .180/.244/.360 line against in 52 2⁄3 innings pitched, going back to June 27th, Max Scherzer returned from 15 days on the Disabled List dealing with inflammation in his neck to face the Miami Marlins last night in the nation’s capital.
It was Scherzer’s third start of the month against Washington’s NL East rivals after he left an outing in Miami on August 1st just one inning in when the neck issue forced him from the mound.
Scherzer returned five days later to throw seven strong against the Marlins in which he gave up just five hits and two earned runs, striking out nine, but one start later the issue cropped up again, on the opposite side of his neck, forcing the Nationals to make the decision to place him on the 10-Day DL.
Dusty Baker told reporters before Monday night’s game that he wasn’t sure how deep he’d take Scherzer in the right-hander’s return to the rotation after two weeks throwing behind the scenes and in the bullpen, but he said he could use some length from the Nats’ ace.
“Our bullpen’s a little spent after this weekend,” Baker said, as quoted by MASN’s Byron Kerr, “... so we need Max to be pitch-efficient to hopefully take us deep into the game because our bullpen is kind of worn out after this weekend’s games.”
Scherzer threw 36 pitches through three scoreless to start the night, working around two hits with two double plays, and struck out two in a 13-pitch, 1-2-3 third, before he gave up a solo shot on a 95 mph 1-2 fastball to Christian Yelich in the fourth that the Marlins’ outfielder powered out to left field. 2-1 Nationals.
It was 4-1 Nats when Scherzer took the mound in the fifth, thanks to a Jayson Werth home run, and he worked around a one-out walk in a 16-pitch frame, then came back in the sixth with another 16-pitch inning, stranding two runners after a one-out single and walk.
It was 10-1 when Scherzer came back out for the seventh at 87 pitches and retired the Marlins in order, picking up two Ks (for 10 total) in a 13-pitch frame. 100 pitches total.
Max Scherzer’s Line: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 10 Ks, 1 HR, 100 P, 69 S, 5/2 GO/FO.
Fish fry.— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) August 29, 2017
Scherzer’s much-anticipated matchup with Giancarlo Stanton was one-sided last night, with the Marlins’ slugger 0 for 3 with two Ks.
Scherzer didn’t show any signs of an issue with his neck.
“I didn’t see him grab his neck one time or do anything out of the ordinary so that was a very good sign,” Baker told reporters after the 11-2 win.
He was asked if there was any point during the last few weeks when he was concerned it could end up being a long-term issue.
“You know me, I try not to worry because like I said, it doesn’t do any good, but when it shifted from one side to the other, then the doctors told me that that was really kind of a good sign versus if it just stayed on one side.
“And so he worked his way through it, our medical staff had hands on him all the time, he had heat packs on his neck and then he showed no signs of that tonight.”
Marlins’ skipper Don Mattingly said it looked like the Scherzer he was used to facing.
“He was good. He looks just like he looks any other time,” Mattingly said.
“Thought we did an okay job with him, honestly, we just got to stay in it, he’s not a guy you want to be down 5-6 runs with.”
“He had good feel for his breaking ball,” Baker added “which is usually the thing that you miss, had a good changeup, good slider, his fastball he located it well, and he knows how to stay ready, he knows how to work, and we’re glad he’s back on the mound because he was driving himself crazy and driving us crazy too, so it was great to see Scherzer back out there.”