Nationals right-hander Max Scherzer (ironically, a past advocate of the universal DH) sustained a broken nose after taking a ball off his face during a bunting drill at Nationals Park on Tuesday. Scherzer had been scheduled to start one of the games during Wednesday’s doubleheader, but it’s now unclear whether he’ll be able to pitch tomorrow, as the team told reporters, including MLB.com’s Jamal Collier:
Max Scherzer took a ball off the face during a bunting drill earlier today. He was getting checked out by the teams training staff, but Martinez said he still expected him to start one of the games in tomorrow’s doubleheader— Jamal Collier (@JamalCollier) June 18, 2019
Max Scherzer’s nose is broken, the Nats announced. CT scan was negative and his status for tomorrow is TBD— Jamal Collier (@JamalCollier) June 19, 2019
The 34-year-old Scherzer is having a bit of a down season by his standards during a year where pitchers in general have struggled amid (very loud) whispers about a juiced ball. Over 15 starts, he has a 2.81 ERA (his highest since 2016) and a 1.08 WHIP (his highest since 2014), though his periphral numbers are very good, with an NL-best 12.3 strikeouts per nine and 1.8 walks per nine. Even if he’s had a very minor drop-off, he’s still very arguably the Nationals’ most valuable player, and with Washington continuing to spiral downward for a second straight season, he could be a trade asset at the deadline or beyond with two-plus seasons remaining on his contract.
While the Nationals haven’t definitively said that Scherzer won’t start Wednesday, it would be a major surprise if he did. It doesn’t appear as if he’ll need to hit the injured list, but it would make sense for them to give him at least a few days to heal and reduce the chance that he’ll be compromised by the injury during his next start. MASN’s Mark Zuckerman mentioned Erick Fedde and Austin Voth as candidates to start the second game of the doubleheader if Scherzer can’t go.