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Nationals place Max Scherzer on the injured list with a rhomboid strain

The Nationals are going to be without their ace for a bit at the worst possible time

MLB: Colorado Rockies at Washington Nationals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The Nationals, who are desperately trying to hang on to hope in the National League East race and fighting to maintain a wild card spot, have a few players that they cannot afford to be without. In addition to Juan Soto and Anthony Rendon, near or at the top of that list is staff ace Max Scherzer.

While Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin have pitched well for them this season, Scherzer has continued to solidify his status as one of the best pitchers in baseball this season. In 20 starts this season, Scherzer has posted an astonishing 5.3 rWAR with a 2.41 ERA and 189 strikeouts in 134.1 innings.

The three time Cy Young Award winner has had his fair share of obstacles to overcome this season including getting hit in the face by an errant bunt during batting practice and had to miss a bit of time with inflammation in his shoulder. Now, it looks like they will be without him yet again.

Scherzer and the Nationals had both indicated that his status for his next start on Tuesday against the Braves was going to be doubtful with an upper back injury. With the official diagnosis out there (the rhomboid is a muscle basically between one’s upper back and shoulder), this injury could not have come at a worse time for Washington. The upcoming series against the Braves could be pivotal in deciding the NL East race which has the Braves 5.5 games up over the Nationals.

Erick Fedder will be called upon to replace Scherzer for however long he is out. In 13 games (8 starts) this season for the Nationals, Fedde has posted a 3.40 ERA with 26 strikeouts in 50.1 innings.