Nationals ace and NL Cy Young front-runner Max Scherzer left his start in the fourth inning against the Pirates on Saturday with a right hamstring cramp, manager Dusty Baker announced. Baker added that Scherzer underwent a precautionary MRI, but the skipper didn’t seem overly concerned about the right-hander, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post tweets. A major injury to Scherzer right before the playoffs could be disastrous for the Nationals, who will match up with the Cubs in the NLDS. If healthy, Scherzer should take the ball for Game 1 on Oct. 6. The two-time Cy Young winner wrapped up his regular season with 3 1/3 scoreless, five-strikeout innings on Saturday, giving him a 2.51 ERA and 12.02 K/9 against 2.47 BB/9 across 200 2/3 frames.
More on Washington and a couple other NL franchises:
- The Cardinals have discussed a new contract with impending free agent reliever Juan Nicasio, who made it clear Saturday that he’d like to re-sign with the club. “Try and make a good deal. I want to stay here,” Nicasio told his agent (via Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, on Twitter). Acquired in a trade with Philadelphia on Sept. 6, Nicasio has served as the Cardinals’ closer down the stretch and thrown 10 innings of two-run ball with the team. In 71 1/3 innings divided among Pittsburgh, Philly and St. Louis this season, the 31-year-old has put up a 2.61 ERA and logged 8.69 K/9 against 2.49 BB/9.
- The Phillies’ decision to change managers could cost them promising hitting coach Matt Stairs, Todd Zolecki of MLB.com writes. In Stairs’ first year on the job, the former slugger has won the favor of the Phillies’ hitters and played a key role in the development of some of their young players, details Zolecki. Thanks in part to Stairs, the Phillies’ offense has posted better numbers across the board than last year’s, including in the runs scored department (679 to 610). Stairs told Zolecki that he’d “love” to continue in Philly, but he realizes his fate rests with the team’s next manager.
- On Saturday, the Nationals activated infielder Stephen Drew from the 60-day disabled list and moved reliever Shawn Kelley to the 60-day DL with bone chips in his right elbow. The move was made so Drew would be eligible for the postseason, though he’s unlikely to be ready for NLDS action, per Jamal Collier of MLB.com. An abdominal strain has shelved Drew since July 25, before which he slashed a disappointing .253/.302/.358 in 106 plate appearances. Kelley, who last pitched Sept. 22, also endured a poor regular season (7.27 ERA in 26 innings). The two-time Tommy John recipient is due a $5.5MM salary in 2018.