Washington Nationals: Max Scherzer Ready To Go
By Ron Juckett
A month after the start of Spring Training games, Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer took the hill. Why you should be excited and relieved.
Washington Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer does not want to talk about his ring finger any more.
Instead, the 2016 National League Cy Young Award winner made is Grapefruit League debut Thursday against the St. Louis Cardinals and pitched well.
After throwing his fastball with an unconventional three-fingered grip most of the spring, Scherzer exclusively used the conventional one, along with his other pitches, in his 4.2 innings of work.
More from District on Deck
- Latest DraftKings Sportsbook Promo Code in Maryland: Bet $5, Win $200 Guaranteed
- Nationals Claim Jeter Downs Off Waivers
- Washington Nationals Minor League Spotlight: Robert Hassell III
- Washington Nationals Tuesday Q&A
- 3 Free Agents the Nationals Should Gamble On
Was he successful? Yes. Although the box score tells another story. As with most numbers from Spring Training, ignore them.
By the time he gave way for Joe Nathan in the fifth, Scherzer threw 73 pitches. The first couple innings were a feeling out process with balls missing spots but, by the third, he had swing and miss stuff.
Tagged with a run in the first, and later charged with a run after Nathan took over, Scherzer went from rusty to good in his start. Considering this was his first start against a major-league lineup since October, he did well.
After his stint, Scherzer told reporters, including Chelsea Janes of The Washington Post:
"“Coming out here and throwing 70 pitches, now we’re looking at 85, 90 pitch count next time out, so that’s good news, that I’m basically on pace to start the regular season and I really shouldn’t miss a turn through the rotation. Considering where I was at coming into spring training, to not have to go to the DL, that’s a huge feat.”"
The stress fracture in his right ring finger knuckle had not healed by the time Washington gathered in West Palm Beach for camp. Side sessions went well. Scherzer pitched a minor-league game last week, but Wednesday was his first test.
Most pitchers their first time through get the normal 30-pitches and two innings before wind sprints in the outfield. With less than two weeks until the regular season, Scherzer is compressing five starts into two.
When asked about the finger Scherzer told reporters, including Janes:
"“The finger feels like a finger. I’m getting through that injury. It’s behind me now.”"
Janes points out Scherzer could pitch twice more before Opening Day, next Monday and then Saturday when the Nats take on the Boston Red Sox at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis. If Dusty Baker wishes to do that, Scherzer would miss the opening series against the Miami Marlins.
Instead, he would pitch the Philadelphia Phillies home opener two weeks from Friday.
We will not know where things stand until Scherzer is examined after this start and how things go his next time around. It is one thing to pitch live batting practice and on a back-field game, it is another to adjust to facing big league hitters again.
Because the Nats have nursed his finger injury, now the concern is getting enough strength in his shoulder to throw 100 pitches. Although the cobwebs were there against the Cardinals, Scherzer did his job striking out four.
Next: Could Difo Win A Roster Spot?
When you look where he was a month ago that is a stroke of business.