Max Scherzer wrapped up the pre-All-Star break portion of the 2019 campaign with a strong run of nine starts in which he went (7-0) with a 0.84 ERA, nine walks (1.27 BB/9), 94 Ks (13.21 K/9), and a .172/.213/.263 line against in 64 innings pitched.
The Nationals’ 34-year-old ace felt tightness in his back after his next-to-last outing of the first half, however, and was bothered again in the aftermath of last Saturday afternoon’s dominant, 11-K start in Washington, D.C., so the starter and the Nats’ brass got together and decided they would have him sit out of the All-Star Game so he’d be ready for the start of the second half.
Unfortunately for Scherzer, the time off, during which he did travel to Cleveland to attend the Midsummer Classic and represent the Nationals, didn’t clear the issue up completely, and the team decided to move his first start of the second half back, so he won’t be going on Sunday afternoon in Citizens Bank Park, where Davey Martinez’s squad started the post-All-Star break part of the season on Friday night.
“He was sore after his last start,” Martinez explained before the first of three in Philadelphia.
“He had an MRI during the break. It came back negative. But he’s sore, so we talked and we decided to just push him back a couple of days and see how he feels.
“We’re at a point now where he went through an unbelievable run and we’re just trying to take care of him.”
The second-year skipper said that Scherzer could probably have gone, and wanted to, but they’re taking a cautious approach because they need the starter healthy down the stretch.
“We need everybody. We need everybody to be healthy, for sure, and that’s why it’s a pivotal time right now to make sure these guys are healthy.”
“What he did the last four or five weeks was incredible,” Martinez added, as quoted by MASN’s Byron Kerr.
“I’m OK with when he is ready. I don’t want this to linger I want it to go away so if he needs a couple days ... right now coming off the break, everybody’s strong and we can figure this out.”
Scherzer threw in Citizens Bank Park and felt better, his manager said, but they talked and made the decision to hold off for now.
“He went out today and threw, and he felt a lot better,” Martinez continued as quoted by MLB.com writer Paul Casella.
“It’s a decision that myself, [general manager] Mike [Rizzo] and our training staff came up with -- just to push him back. You know Max, he always feels like he’s ready to go, but we need to do the smart thing here.”
Scherzer targeting Tuesday as next start, vs Orioles. hoping back feels better after anti inflammatory . Keeps Sunday at Atlanta in play— Byron Kerr (@masnKerr) July 13, 2019
Max Scherzer played down any concern about his back after the game. He called returning Tuesday "realistic."— Sam Fortier (@Sam4TR) July 13, 2019
"This is not something to be overly concerned about. ... We're only a matter of days. This isn't a long-term injury."