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Nats optimistic as Suzuki stays on WS roster

Catcher exited Saturday night's Game 3 with strained right hip flexor
@JamalCollier
October 26, 2019

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals felt confident enough in the results of an MRI on Kurt Suzuki’s right hip flexor that he will remain on the World Series roster. The club did not release the results of Suzuki’s MRI, but before Saturday’s Game 4, manager Dave Martinez said they would need

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals felt confident enough in the results of an MRI on Kurt Suzuki’s right hip flexor that he will remain on the World Series roster.

The club did not release the results of Suzuki’s MRI, but before Saturday’s Game 4, manager Dave Martinez said they would need a definitive answer to prevent playing without a backup catcher for too long. If they believed Suzuki might need to miss any time or even if they considered it borderline, the Nats would have made a roster move. That they did not means they are optimistic about his status.

Game Date Result Highlights
Gm 1 Oct. 22 WSH 5, HOU 4 Watch
Gm 2 Oct. 23 WSH 12, HOU 3 Watch
Gm 3 Oct. 25 HOU 4, WSH 1 Watch
Gm 4 Oct. 26 HOU 8, WSH 1 Watch
Gm 5 Oct. 27 HOU 7, WSH 1 Watch
Gm 6 Oct. 29 WSH 7, HOU 2 Watch
Gm 7 Oct. 30 WSH 6, HOU 2 Watch

“I mean, we have to,” Martinez said prior to the game. “If we deem that he can't be ready for a couple of days, then we're going to have to do something … the last I spoke to him, he doesn't feel as bad as he did yesterday. So that's a good sign.”

Suzuki, 36, strained his right hip flexor in the sixth inning of Game 3 on Friday night, when he corralled a 3-2 changeup in the dirt from Fernando Rodney. He was examined by the Nationals’ training staff before completing the inning on defense and then being replaced by a pinch-hitter after Suzuki felt he’d be putting the team in a bad spot.

Yan Gomes, who split time with Suzuki during the season almost evenly, started behind the plate for Game 4, which is typical with left-hander Patrick Corbin on the mound. But the Nats are hopeful Suzuki can return after Saturday. He has had a rough postseason overall offensively, going 3-for-30 (.100) at the plate, but he did hit the go-ahead homer in the seventh inning of Game 2, and his blocking ability behind the plate has been solid, even if it doesn’t make up for what he lacks in pitch framing.

But Suzuki’s greatest contribution to the Nationals seems to be his relationship to the rotation. Max Scherzer has called Suzuki “invaluable” behind the plate, so although Scherzer took the time before Game 4 to say he would be comfortable with either catcher, he has worked with Suzuki for most of the year.

“We've worked really well together, just being in sync of what pitch to throw and even in big situations,” Scherzer said. “But I've also worked with Yan this year several times. Even when Zuke was down there in September, there was a handful of games where I was throwing to Yan.

“And so we do have a rapport with each other, we do understand what's going on. And Yan is very astute to the game of being able to watch what's going on and how I sequence guys and what we want to do.”

Scherzer to monitor back injury during offseason

Once Scherzer turned the corner from the lingering back injury that interrupted his second half, he never looked back. In five games this postseason, he owns a 2.16 ERA with 34 strikeouts and 11 walks, as he prepares for his second crack at the Astros in Game 5 on Sunday night.

Scherzer, 35, will eventually revisit the root of those back injuries, which robbed him of about six weeks and two IL stints, and make adjustments accordingly.

“The back issues are fine,” Scherzer said. “All those back issues I have to really address in the offseason of how I'm going to train and everything. I've been dreaming up different things I might be doing this December and January to really address that.”

Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.