“I’m good to go,” Max Scherzer told reporters after throwing around 60 pitches between his warm-up routine in the bullpen and a sim game on the mound earlier this week in Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. as he tries to get back in the Nationals’ rotation after landing on the 10-Day Injured List for the second time this season with a mild rhomboid strain on July 29th.
“I’ve thrown a pen, threw in a sim game, the pitches feel there, throwing a bullpen is not going to do any difference, you’ve just got to get in a game to get a feel for everything.”
“I want to pitch in the big leagues,” Scherzer added. “I think I’m ready to pitch in the big leagues.”
It’s not solely his decision, however, and Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez told reporters before the series opener with the Milwaukee Brewers last night that they decided to have the 35-year-old, three-time Cy Young winner throw another sim game before making the decision on the next step for the Nationals’ ace.
“We want Max to keep progressing,” Martinez explained. “He’s doing good. So, his next progression will be to pitch a sim game tomorrow again and go from there. And this has always been part of it. He met with the doctor and I think we still have to strengthen him to pitch — his endurance to get him through 75-80 pitches. So tomorrow he comes out, see how he goes, and then we’ll come back and we’ll see how he recovers after that.”
Given how eager Scherzer is to get back on the mound in game action, how’d that talk go?
“It’s trying,” Martinez admitted.
“Very trying, yeah. He wants to pitch, and I don’t blame him, and I’ll be honest with you, I want him to pitch, but we have to be smart and we want to make sure that when he comes back he’s back with us for the rest of the season.”
As Martinez, GM Mike Rizzo, and everyone involved has said throughout the process, which started with Scherzer missing time with a mid-back strain, which was later diagnosed as an issue with scapulothoracic bursitis, the goal is to keep the pitcher on the mound for the rest of the season once he returns.
“He feels really good right now, so remember when we started this, the biggest thing is to get Max back, but get him back for the duration of the season,” Martinez said.
Tomorrow’s sim game will have Scherzer throwing a heavier work load so they can see how he reacts as they build towards what will just be his second start since July 6th, after a brief return to the rotation on July 25th before the second IL stint for the starter.
“It’s going to be a little bit heavier,” Martinez explained, “but like I said we’ll see how he gets through it.”