Scherzer Update/Joe Ross starts tonight:
Asked how he felt after throwing from a short distance, a day after he was scratched from his scheduled start against the Baltimore Orioles with what the Washington Nationals told reporters was mild discomfort in his right tricep, Max Scherzer, as quoted by Washington Post writer Jesse Dougherty, said he was, “Good,” adding, “I got a glove and a ball.” Neither Scherzer or his manager, Davey Martinez, think the 36-year-old right-hander should miss a second turn in the rotation.
“He’s playing catch today,” Martinez said in his pregame Zoom call with reporters on Sunday morning. “We’ll see how he feels after — when he comes in. I’ll have a conversation with him and then we’ll go from there. We think that we’re going to treat this — if he’s good — treat this as he’ll get ready for his next start where he’ll have to throw a bullpen and then we’ll go from there as well.”
With Scherzer scratched on Saturday, the Nationals moved their starters up a day, with Jon Lester going in the 2nd of 3 with the O’s, and Paolo Espino starting the series finale Sunday afternoon, but that left an opening for the series opener with the Philadelphia Phillies today in Citizens Bank Park.
Martinez hinted on Saturday that Joe Ross, out since July 4th with inflammation in his right elbow, could make the start after working his way back over the last few weeks, but he did not want to commit to that before he talked to the right-hander.
On Sunday morning, Martinez made it official.
“We’re going to start Joe Ross tomorrow,” he said. “I talked to him last night, he feels good, he checked all the boxes we need to see, so he’s going to start tomorrow.”
What were the boxes Ross needed to check before he was deemed good to go?
“We had him throw a few extended bullpens,” Martinez said. “His arm felt good, the doctors OK’d him. He didn’t miss a whole lot of time, we had guys stand in in his last bullpen session, right-handed and left-handed hitters, he was pounding the strike zone, he looked good, he said his body felt good, so for me we want to get him back out there as soon as we can.
“We often talk about Joe, because he missed all of last year, and about how much we can get out of him this year. I talked to [Pitching Coach Jim] Hickey, I talked to him, about just if [Ross] went down on a rehab assignment, we’re kind of just wasting bullets, there’s only so many innings and we got to be careful about how many innings he does pitch. So he feels like he’s ready to go, so we’re going to get him out there, there’s going to be no limitations on him tomorrow and we’ll see how far he can take us.”
Strasdate; UpStras; Upburg:
While there was good news on Joe Ross returning, Davey Martinez also updated reporters on Stephen Strasburg, who suffered another setback with the neck strain that has limited the 2019 World Series MVP this season.
Martinez said earlier this weekend that they’d once again backed Strasburg down from his ramp-up towards a return when he experienced discomfort in his neck again after working in the bullpen.
So what’s the next step for the 32-year-old right-hander?
“The next plan, he’s scheduled to see someone tomorrow,” Martinez said, after previously saying that another trip to a specialist was likely.
“The details I don’t know, I just talked to [team trainer] Paul [Lessard] about it, so he’s going to go tomorrow and see somebody, and then we’ll know more after that.”
The fact that they still don’t know what’s leading to the issue Strasburg is dealing with at this time is a source of frustration for everyone involved.
“We want him to go — it’s more of a comfort thing. Like I said, he felt uncomfortable after his bullpen sessions, so now we want him to go see a specialist, see what’s going on, why this is happening,” Martinez said.
“It doesn’t happen to him when he plays long-toss. But after he has a bullpen, he feels discomfort up in his neck area.
“The best thing to do now is have him see somebody else and see if we can pinpoint what it is. If it’s anything, or if it’s just a muscle thing.
“We’re going to hopefully get results as soon as we possibly can and then go from there.”
And if it isn’t anything and is just a muscle thing, is this something Strasburg’s going to have to learn to deal with and pitch through, or what is the remedy?
“We’re hoping that that’s not a path that we have to go down,” the manager said of the ‘09 No. 1 overall pick just having to deal with this going forward.
“But if he goes to see someone and they don’t deem anything wrong, and it’s just a muscle thing, then we’ll have to come up with another game plan for him.
“But like I said, I don’t want to speculate on anything until he sees a doctor and then we’ll go from there.”
Catching Corps - IL Update:
Yan Gomes (oblique) and Alex Avila (bilateral calf strains) continue to make strides as they work to return from their respective injuries, and Martinez provided the latest updates on their progress before Sunday’s game in Oriole Park.
“Yan is close,” Martinez said.
“He’s in the cage. He’s been hitting. Doing a lot of soft toss. He hit — took some BP in the cage, so the next step, we’ll get him on the field and get him hitting on the field and then we’ll go from there.”
“Alex is progressing,” the manager said. “His next hurdle is to run. He’s done everything else but run, we got to get him on the field and start running the bases a little bit, and hopefully that will happen soon.”