Max Scherzer is the Washington Nationals’ best pitcher. In fact, he’s arguably the best pitcher in the National League and will probably win the N.L. Cy Young Award for the second straight year.
He’s been particularly tough on the Cubs since coming to the Nats. In four starts, he’s allowed the Cubs one run or fewer in three of them, and in those three totaled 30 strikeouts in 20 innings. (In the other start, May 6, 2016 at Wrigley Field, the Cubs pounded him for seven runs and four home runs in five innings.)
He was expected to start Game 1 against the Cubs Friday in Washington, and thus also probably be the Nats’ Game 5 starter if the division series goes that far.
That’s why this seems important:
Scherzer Leg Issue. [To avoid rampant #PitchingTwitter speculation.] pic.twitter.com/MhUjnMVRDr— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) October 1, 2017
Scherzer landed awkwardly on that pitch to the Pirates’ Josh Bell Saturday night. He left the game with what was described as a “right hamstring cramp.” The Nationals say it was simply precautionary:
Scherzer initially fought to stay in the game.
However, he was removed from the game following a brief meeting with manager Dusty Baker, pitching coach Mike Maddux and head trainer Paul Lessard. Baker acknowledged that perhaps in a postseason game or with more on the line, Scherzer could have extended himself. But there was no need to do so Saturday in a game that could not affect the Nationals' playoff seeding.
"Max never wants to come out," Baker said. "We thought it was best for him and us for him to go out."
Scherzer was sent to receive what the team called a precautionary MRI and was not available to reporters after the game.
It seems likely that the Nats are telling the truth, that Scherzer is not seriously injured and will likely start Game 1 as scheduled.
But it’s possible that Scherzer might not be at full strength when facing the Cubs Friday. You never want to see players injured, but the Cubs will take a not-100-percent Scherzer if that’s what they get in Game 1.
Anyway, as I noted above: This might not matter. But then, it might. And I thought you all should know, and see the video, if you had not yet heard.