WASHINGTON -- Ten pitches into his bullpen session on Monday afternoon at Nationals Park, right-hander Max Scherzer experienced discomfort in his groin and knew he would not be ready to make his scheduled start on Wednesday against the Pirates.
“Got to the mound, and I just still wasn’t able to fully drive off that leg,” Scherzer said. “Is it possible I could make a start on Wednesday? It’s possible, but you just don’t run that risk here in June. So I’m just not going to be able to go on Wednesday. You just can’t take that risk in June if I’m not able to get off the mound today.”
Scherzer exited Friday’s start against the Giants after just 12 pitches. An MRI taken during the game revealed inflammation but no muscle strain. While Scherzer has been able to do running and agility drills, he was unable to loosen up while pitching.
“I would injure this worse,” Scherzer said of potentially starting as scheduled. “That’s the risk you’re taking trying to pitch through this. This is just something you can’t pitch through. I’ve pitched through a lot of other things, found a way to do a lot of other stuff. But this one you just can’t get around.”
Scherzer has been the anchor of the Nats’ starting rotation this season with a 5-4 record, a 2.21 ERA and 104 strikeouts over 13 starts. Washington could give the nod on Wednesday to long-inning reliever Paolo Espino, who has made one start this season and took batting practice Monday.
“I’m able to do something more every single day,” Scherzer said. “That’s why I said I might be able to make it in time for Wednesday, but you just can’t. ‘Might’s’ not a good word in June.”
After discussing the latest on his injury status, Scherzer was asked about his take on foreign substances on baseballs and the increasing conversations surrounding the topic.
Scherzer is a member of the Major League Baseball Players Association’s executive committee.
He said an ideal solution would be one that is satisfactory to both pitchers and hitters. Major League Baseball has been looking into developing a stickier ball since 2016, including experimenting with a tackier ball in the ‘16 Arizona Fall League and introducing a prototype for a day during Spring Training ‘19. Scherzer believes conversations have picked up as of late because of an increase in public comments.
“Guys now are speaking publicly on it and calling each other out publicly over different stuff,” he said. “Some of it’s warranted. Hitters have the right to be upset when there’s been overly enhanced pine tar, the Spider Tack substances and such, that those substances are designed to increase spin rate. Hitters have a problem with that. I understand that. I sympathize with that. But pine tar’s been a part of the game, and guys have used it so that the ball doesn’t slip out of their hand to hit somebody in the head. So there’s also, that statement’s true as well.
“That’s why we’re trying to navigate the situation as best we can.”