Scherzer starts Game 2 against Nats

April 7th, 2022

WASHINGTON -- On the eve of Opening Day,  stood in the outfield of his old stomping grounds and delivered throw after throw to bullpen catcher Eric Langill. He grunted and barked out orders, focusing in particular on the shape and action of his slider.

Scherzer acted, in essence, as he always does: maniacal about his pitching, unconcerned about the rest. That included his sore right hamstring, which won’t keep him sidelined any longer. Scherzer recovered in time and will start Game 2 of the season on Friday at Nationals Park, allowing him to return to the stadium where he spent six and a half years.

“It’s just going to be a crazy, wild atmosphere,” Scherzer said.

As the Mets prepared to break camp on Tuesday, Scherzer completed the most significant test of his rehab, throwing a bullpen session in an indoor batting cage. He said afterward that the session was “really good” and that he expected to pitch Friday. But Scherzer still needed to complete a series of fielding drills, which he did Thursday without issue.

“He’s ready to go,” manager Buck Showalter said, repeating it for emphasis. “Ready to go.”

And so Scherzer will face his former team for the first time since the out-of-contention Nationals traded him to the Dodgers last summer. Scherzer pitched in Washington from 2015-21, winning his only World Series and two of his three Cy Young Awards. The Nationals plan to acknowledge him with a tribute ceremony before Friday’s game.

“It was weird when I had that Dodgers uniform on, too,” Scherzer said of returning. “You get used to it. You get used to playing for another team. And you go out there and just compete and have fun. Lot of good memories here. There always will be good memories here. But nothing lasts forever. And as my baseball journey goes on, I’m here in New York and excited about what the future holds.”

Scherzer would have been a candidate to pitch Opening Day in place of injured Mets ace Jacob deGrom, but he tweaked his hamstring during routine running work on March 31. That forced him to abandon plans to make his final spring tuneup in an intrasquad game.

Instead, Tylor Megill stepped in to pitch the opener while Scherzer lined himself up for Game 2, followed by Chris Bassitt, Carlos Carrasco and Taijuan Walker. Despite the hiccup, Scherzer should still be stretched out enough to give the Mets significant length. He threw six innings and 90 pitches in his last Grapefruit League start on March 27, and while Scherzer said he didn’t know for sure how deep into the game he’ll be able to pitch, he remains as stretched out as any Mets starter.

The Mets signed Scherzer, who went 15-4 with a 2.46 ERA last season, to a three-year, $130 million contract this past offseason.