Scherzer forgoes 'pen in advance of start

Zimmerman gets extra day off; Doolittle pitching at high rate

April 11th, 2019

PHILADELPHIA -- did not throw his usual bullpen session on Wednesday, instead throwing off flat ground in preparation for Saturday’s scheduled start against the Pirates.

Scherzer, who took a comebacker off his right leg Sunday against the Mets, had his lower right leg taped in the clubhouse on Wednesday. The Nationals have an off-day on Thursday, giving Scherzer an extra day to get ready.

"We’ll see how he feels," manager Dave Martinez said. "He might want to come out tomorrow and throw a bullpen. It’s kind of nice that he has that extra day. We’ll see how he feels tomorrow."

Thanks to Thursday's off-day, the Nationals would simply move up Anibal Sanchez from Sunday to start in Scherzer's place if the three-time Cy Young Award winner can't go on Saturday at Nationals Park. That said, Martinez remains optimistic that he'll have his ace on the mound.

"He said he feels a lot better than he did yesterday," Martinez said.

Zimmerman gets day off
was not in the lineup for Wednesday's series finale against the Phillies, with Martinez opting to give his first baseman an extra day of rest ahead of Thursday's off-day.

"It gives Zim two days off. We talk about that a lot, to keep him fresh," Martinez said. "I like to give him either the back side of a day off or the front side of a day off, and it just so happens to work out that he’ll get a day off today, a day off tomorrow and come back fresh Friday."

Zimmerman was limited to 85 games last season, mostly due to a right oblique strain that kept him sidelined from mid-May to late July. The 34-year-old has averaged just 100 games per season over the last five years, and has played more than 115 games only once during that span.

The move also allowed to get some extra reps at the plate. Adams, who entered Wednesday's game hitless in nine at-bats with six strikeouts, went 2-for-5 with four RBIs against the Phillies in a 15-1 win. Though he's no stranger to pinch-hitting -- his nine career pinch-hit homers are the most among active players -- Adams could benefit from multiple plate appearances.

"Matty needs to get at-bats," Martinez said. "I watched him take batting practice yesterday, and he’s swinging really good. We’ve just got to get him some good pitches to hit, he’s got to swing at good pitches and he’ll be fine."

Doolittle doing a lot
The National League wins leader entering Tuesday was not Scherzer. Nor was it Jacob deGrom or Stephen Strasburg or Aaron Nola.

That prestigious honor belonged to Nationals closer (3-0).

That isn't so much a testament to how well Doolittle has pitched this season -- or the relevancy of individual pitcher wins -- but simply to the way the Nationals have used him in the early going. Doolittle recorded five outs in Tuesday night's win, marking the second time this season he's recorded five outs in a single appearance. He did that just three times total from 2016-18, all coming in '18.

“You can’t have an ego in the bullpen," Doolittle said. "At the end of the day, we’re a group, and we’re only as good as the sum of our parts. Whatever you’re called on to do that day, you’ve got to be willing to do it for the boys.”

Along with his multiple five-out appearances, Doolittle has already entered twice in a tie game this season. He's also warmed up in the bullpen in all but one of Washington's 10 games.

As for his place atop the NL wins leaderboard?

"I had no idea actually," Doolittle said, with a laugh. "But at the end of the day, it’s fun being out there in situations where we have a chance to win, and trying to be on the mound high-fiving with the guys after a win."