Max Scherzer was scratched from his scheduled start about two hours before first pitch Saturday due to “mild discomfort” in his right tricep, the Washington Nationals announced. Jon Lester will take the ball for Washington against the Orioles instead.
The injury stems from a recent batting practice session rather than being related to pitching, and Scherzer told reporters that he expects to make his next scheduled start. He doesn’t think a trip to the injured list will be necessary, although Scherzer said he will need to throw another bullpen session without feeling any discomfort first.
The setback comes at an interesting time for the Nationals — and for Scherzer, in particular. With Washington entering Saturday night’s game seven games back of the New York Mets in the National League East lead, there’s wonder whether general manager Mike Rizzo will choose to sell or buy at the July 30 trade deadline.
Rizzo said earlier this week that the team will take a dual approach, ready for either option, monitoring how the next few games go. Since he said that, the Nationals have split two games against the Miami Marlins and dropped Friday’s contest with the Orioles.
Scherzer is in the final season of his seven-year, $210-million contract with Washington. He started the recent All-Star Game and has a 2.83 ERA with a 0.886 WHIP this season, making him a key target for teams looking to bolster their starting pitching ahead of a playoff push.
Scherzer has a no-trade clause in his contract, meaning he can block any potential move. If he waived that clause, Washington could receive a haul to improve a farm system lacking many top prospects. According to Jon Heyman of MLB Network, Scherzer is being discussed in potential trades.
The Nationals are facing a rash of injuries. Stephen Strasburg experienced another setback to his neck, feeling more discomfort when throwing, manager Dave Martinez said Friday. Strasburg has been on the injured list since June 2, and there doesn’t appear to be an end to that stint in sight. Right-hander Joe Ross is also on the injured list with elbow discomfort.
Infielder Jordy Mercer was added to the 10-day injured list Saturday, resulting in third baseman Carter Kieboom receiving his second big-league call-up this season. The 23-year-old has hit .236 in Triple-A in 44 games, recently returning from a knee injury.