The Mets have been without Max Scherzer for the past ten days, as the three-time Cy Young winner has battled some fatigue in his left oblique. That was a bit of a concern given that a strain in the muscle cost him around two months earlier this season, but Scherzer looks as if he’s on track to be reinstated when first eligible next Monday. He made a rehab start with Triple-A Syracuse tonight, tossing 59 pitches over 3 2/3 innings. After the game, Scherzer told reporters he feels “excellent” and would be ready to rejoin the big league rotation at the beginning of next week (via Anthony DiComo of MLB.com).
Scherzer’s prompt return is obviously a boon for a Mets team battling for a division title down the stretch. At 89-55, New York holds a half-game advantage over the Braves in the NL East. They’re a postseason lock, but securing the division is likely to come with a first-round bye as a top-two seed in the National League. New York is five games clear of the third-seeded Cardinals, who lead the NL Central, putting the East winner in good position to join the Dodgers in earning an immediate trip to the NL Division Series.
Some other injury updates around the game:
- The Rays just placed Brandon Lowe on the 10-day injured list yesterday, the second baseman’s third such stint of the 2022 season. Manager Kevin Cash told reporters (including Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times) that an MRI revealed some inflammation in Lowe’s back. He’s headed for further evaluation to determine treatment possibilities, but Cash indicated the club is still hopeful he’ll return to the diamond this season. The Rays look set to mix-and-match at second base while Lowe’s out, giving the last three starts at the position to Taylor Walls, Jonathan Aranda and Isaac Paredes respectively. Walls is the best defender of the group, but he’s not hit well this year. Paredes has only a .293 on-base percentage but has connected on 18 home runs in 92 games. Aranda has only 15 big league games under his belt, but he’s raked at a .318/.394/.521 clip through 465 plate appearances with Triple-A Durham.
- Nationals right-hander Cade Cavalli has been out for the past two weeks after being diagnosed with inflammation in his throwing shoulder. That seems likely to end his season, as manager Dave Martinez told reporters (including Bobby Blanco of MASNsports.com) that Cavalli is unlikely to make it back to game action this year. With three weeks remaining and the Nationals virtual locks for last place, there’s no reason for the club to take any chances with the prized young hurler. Martinez indicated that Cavalli has been cleared to start throwing after a brief shutdown period and the team feels he’ll be able to work from a mound before the season is out, but it seems that’ll be in a bullpen session rather than in-game work. Cavalli, generally regarded as the top pitching prospect in the organization, made his first MLB appearance on August 26. He’s likely to compete for a job in the season-opening rotation as Washington continues their rebuild next year.
- Aaron Ashby returned to a mound for the first time since landing on the injured list three weeks ago, tossing an 18-pitch bullpen session this afternoon (reported by Adam McCalvy of MLB.com). He’s scheduled for another bullpen session over the weekend. The Brewers remain hopeful the southpaw will be able to make it back this season, although he’d work in shorter stints due to the abbreviated ramp-up period. Ashby has started 17 of his 23 appearances this year, but he came out of the bullpen for nine of his 13 outings in 2021. He’s thrived as a reliever in his MLB career, posting a 3.63 ERA with a 36.2% strikeout rate through 34 2/3 innings in that capacity. Ashby has been a bit more erratic when trying to navigate a lineup multiple times as a starter, although he’s still flashed the swing-and-miss and ground-ball combination that made him such a promising pitching prospect. Milwaukee sits two games back of the Padres for the National League’s final Wild Card spot, so they’d surely welcome any contributions they can get from the 24-year-old for the stretch run.