The Nationals announced Tuesday that they’ve reinstated ace Max Scherzer from the injured list and, in a corresponding move, placed righty Kyle Finnegan on the 10-day IL with a strained left hamstring. Finnegan’s IL placement is retroactive to June 21.
Scherzer, 36, ultimately only required a minimal 10-day stay on the injured list after suffering a groin strain that forced him from his most recent outing. He’ll return to a surging Nationals club that has won seven of its past eight games. That hot streak has only shrunk what was a seven-game deficit in the division to five games, but the Nats’ next seven games will be against NL East opponents (two against the Phillies, four against Miami and one a makeup game against the Mets).
There’s been plenty of speculation that Scherzer will eventually wind up on the trade market, but the Nationals aren’t likely to make any such move unless they’re completely buried in the division. Scherzer, who also has full no-trade protection, has been nothing short of dominant so far in 2021. He’s made 13 starts and tallied 77 1/3 innings while recording a 2.21 ERA with a 36 percent strikeout rate against a 5.2 percent walk rate.
Scherzer will start tonight’s game against the second-place Phillies and hope to continue the Nationals’ recent climb back into the division race. That his stay on the IL proved minimal is of particular importance to the Nats, given Stephen Strasburg’s continued injury troubles in 2021. Lefty Patrick Corbin is also in the midst of a down year, although he’s notched a much-improved 3.97 ERA in 70 1/3 innings after shaking off a pair of disastrous outings to open the season. Fellow veteran Jon Lester and righties Erick Fedde and Joe Ross round out the Washington starting staff at the moment, but rotation help would be a possible focus area if GM Mike Rizzo and his staff look to upgrade on the trade market this summer.