Max Scherzer is back in the Nationals rotation, but he’s not yet back to full health, per MLB.com’s Jamal Collier. How he feels the day after a start is a touchstone for Scherzer, who classified his own health status as “not out of the woods yet.”
In what amounted to a rehab start, Scherzer went four innings in a series finale win in Pittsburgh on Thursday, but as he gutted out a 4-inning, 71-pitch return, he was clearly working a gear or two below normal. It’s uncertain how long it will take before he’s back to full-blown Mad Max status.
Still, Scherzer remains ever-confident in his ability to not only bounce back, but potentially emerge stronger. “You know, heck, in some ways this might make me a better pitcher,” Scherzer said, per Collier. “When I come out on the other side, I may be a better pitcher because of this because of what I’m learning how to do right now and how to still be sharp and yet still be controlled. So let’s look at this glass half full.”
While that’s certainly a scary proposition for opposing hitters, simply returning to full health as one of the two or three best pitchers in the game would be more than enough progress for the Nationals.
Scherzer’s understudy has also been dealing with an injury scare, but Joe Ross is set to make his scheduled start today at Wrigley Field. Ross had been immaculate in holding the line with a 0.42 ERA in four starts before a Josh Bell line drive off his shin forced him to leave his last start early.
As for Erick Fedde, the presumptive fifth starter before Ross’ recent run, he could eventually move to the bullpen. For now, he will likely get at least one more turn in the rotation. Dave Martinez suggested the Nats might keep a 6-man rotation for the next week or so. Even with days off already built in, the Nats would err on the side of caution in giving everyone an extra day or two between turns as they gear up for the final push in September. After all, even the Nats healthy contingent of starters – Stephen Strasburg, Patrick Corbin, Anibal Sanchez – have dealt with injuries in the past. Of course, if the Nats offense keeps this up – they’re averaging 10 runs per game over their last 9 games – Scherzer can take all the time he needs.