Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

Is anyone else seriously concerned about Scherzer’s injury?


What the heck is going on with Scherzer's finger? photo via

What the heck is going on with Scherzer’s finger? photo via

So, let me see if I understand this timeline:

  • Max Scherzer suffered a stress fracture in his ring finger “late in 2016” but it wasn’t enough to force him to miss any starts down the stretch (he made 6 starts in September last year, winning 5 of them to lock up the NL Cy Young award, and only really pitched “badly” in one of them) nor either of his two starts in the playoffs (he gave up 4 in 6 innings, then pitched masterfully in the NLDS game 5, giving up just four hits in 6 complete before a lead-off homer and a quick yank on 99 pitches in the fateful game 7).  Indeed, Scherzer said in the below press release that he pitched “pain free” all fall but only in the off-season did the discomfort set in.
  • A couple weeks after he was named to the US WBC team, the injury was then given as the reason that he had to subsequently withdraw from the World Baseball Classic.  This announcement was made on January 9th, and the press release noted that it was basically precautionary and that he would be ready for full participation in Spring Training.
  • Five weeks later, at the start of spring training, we get word that Scherzer now may not be ready for opening day due to the injury.
  • I then read today, February 26th, that Scherzer is throwing but with a “modified grip??”

Great; our Cy Young winning $210M pitcher has had a months-long non-healing fracture in his throwing hand that is now forcing him to throw with a modified grip.  The team has had the entire off-season to resolve this situation, yet here we are in a crucial 2017 season where we literally traded all our pitching depth in the off-season … and our #1 starter sounds to me like he’s starting the year on the D/L.


Am I over-reacting here?  Is anyone else reading these tea leaves and thinking to themselves, “oh it’ll be ok, we’ll see him opening day like always?”  Because right now its looking like he’s on the D/L come April 1st, Strasburg is testing out his injured Flexor Mass Tendon on Opening Day, Roark will be slotting in at #2 after having his normal spring training interrupted by the WBC, to be followed by the erratic Gonzalez, the also-coming-off-an-arm-injury Joe Ross, and then the career 79 ERA+ A.J. Cole leading up the rear, he who just got shelled in his first spring training game.

Sounds like a winning formula to me.


Written by Todd Boss

February 26th, 2017 at 5:28 pm

13 Responses to 'Is anyone else seriously concerned about Scherzer’s injury?'

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  1. I agree Todd…. That’s why I was really hoping for Sale. Not that I knew about Scherzer problems at the time, but Stras injury, Ross injury and Gio being Gio kinda scared me on the outlook.

    Marty C

    26 Feb 17 at 7:15 pm

  2. I heard an interview that implied that Scherzer even had surgery … that was definitely never disclosed if it indeed happened.

    It sounded to me like the Nats were 100% in on Sale but just got outbid. Red Sox were willing to trade their best hitting prospect (Moncada) while we were not willing to move Robles. Me reading the tea leaves of the Nats protection of Robles goes like this: the team knows they’ve got a very special player, they know they have little chance of retaining Harper after 2018, and Robles may be a like for like replacement to take the team into the next generation…

    Todd Boss

    26 Feb 17 at 8:38 pm

  3. Robles isn’t Harper, and any expectation that he could be Harper’s “replacement” is unfair to the kid. He’s not nearly as big as Harper, for one thing. Until he shows otherwise, I’m still looking at him as more of a gap-power doubles guy than an HR bat. I’m glad they held onto Robles, as they have very little top-tier talent among positional players. But it remains to be seen what they’ve got in him. Best case would be half a season in Potomac, half a season in Harrisburg, and a Sept. cup of coffee.

    Cole apparently had a good first inning and was hitting 95, but then the wheels fell off. I know it’s early, but the second inning was pretty ugly, and he couldn’t even finish it. Worley seemed to be decent but gave up three hits and a run. Fedde was very strong, and Voth pitched a scoreless inning as well. Baker mentioned Worley as a possibility in the “Petit role” in post-game comments.

    As for Max, I’d rather him miss a couple of starts at the beginning of the season and perhaps have more in the tank at the end. There’s no reason to rush, or overcompensate. Now, if there is a #6 starter needed, the competition began today. They have an open date the second day of the season so could skip him the first week.


    26 Feb 17 at 9:07 pm

  4. Here’s early speculation on how the Dodgers will use Urias and his Verducci-taxed arm:

    Shorter starts can really tax a bullpen, particularly since Rich Hill is already prone to shorter starts himself.


    26 Feb 17 at 9:11 pm

  5. Get down off the ledge!!! I’m just glad it isn’t an elbow or shoulder for Max (yet?). Considering how long ST is this year, I’m glad that Max is not going full blast just yet. I’m still more worried about his elbow and shoulder than his knuckle.

    Andrew R

    26 Feb 17 at 11:37 pm

  6. An additional wrinkle on AJ Cole: remember he has a suspension to serve, so many have speculated he’ll start the year on the 25-man even if he’s not planning on making the team just so he can clear that suspension, then he’ll get optioned. Or, if Scherzer starts on D/L Cole can be 5th starter, make the opening day roster but not pitch for the first week anyway. The nats won’t technically need a 5th s tarter til sunday the 9th (their 6th game of the season).

    Todd Boss

    27 Feb 17 at 7:36 am

  7. Hey Wally, Rosenthal has the Nats in on Pagan. That would finally end the Taylor trauma, at least for this year. That would be a heck of an investment on a bench upgrade, on top of Lind, Drew, and Heisey.


    27 Feb 17 at 9:59 am

  8. Yes, we’re over-reacting. It’s what we do. We’re still five weeks out from Opening Day.

    On Cole, his results were not good, but someone I know who was at the game said the floodgates were opened when CRob played a routine ball into a hit and Goodwin added to the comedy by throwing to the wrong base. The HR is definitely on Cole, but on the upside he also hit 95 in his first ST outing (usually players add velocity as they round into pitching form).

    The important thing to remember about ST results is that they don’t mean much, if anything at all. Health is the most important thing, with the corollary (for pitchers) of stuff. Cole throwing harder than he did last year is, for me, the biggest takeaway from yesterday’s game.

    John C.

    27 Feb 17 at 11:07 am

  9. I attended that final regular season game last year in which Scherzer won his 20th, but didn’t look sharp after the 2nd inning. At the time, I was annoyed that they left him out there for thee more innings in a meaningless game while he labored mightily with a big lead so he could get just enough outs to qualify for the W, which looks great on the stat sheet but was meaningless to the team. To hear that he had an injury on top of it makes the decision to even start him in that game all the more inexplicable, especially for an organization that was so cautious with Strasburg back in 2012.

    Karl Kolchak

    27 Feb 17 at 12:41 pm

  10. KW – yeah, that would be a nice bench, wouldn’t it?

    While we are at it, signing Luis Robert would be a nice investment in the future, too

    Does anyone know where to go to find how much deferred money that Nats have on the books?


    27 Feb 17 at 1:12 pm

  11. Wally! I just did a post on Nats deferred money. I had the same thought you did. I don’t want to waste my post though so I won’t tell you the answer :-) But now I have to publish it. I’ll post it tmrw.

    Todd Boss

    27 Feb 17 at 1:26 pm

  12. Pagan links:

    that’s a shot across Taylor/Goodwin’s bow.

    Todd Boss

    27 Feb 17 at 1:29 pm

  13. I saw some report on Luis Robert that had a scout calling him “the best player on the planet right now.” The poor scout has apparently been on the road so long that he’s never heard of Mr. Trout.

    Anyway, yeah, he does sound like the best prospect coming out of Cuba anytime soon, so if the bucks are available, shell ’em out. (It’s not my money, and Ted can’t take it with him!)


    27 Feb 17 at 1:37 pm

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