Max Scherzer and the Washington Nationals hope the third time is the charm for the ace right-hander.
Scherzer, who has battled a sore right hamstring in his past two starts, is scheduled to take the mound for the Nationals on Tuesday night in the second game of a four-game series against the host New York Mets.
Scherzer (0-1, 3.29 ERA) is lined up to oppose former teammate Rick Porcello (1-1, 6.92 ERA) in the rematch of last Wednesday’s game in Washington, when Scherzer exited after one inning in the Nationals’ 3-1 loss due to a sore right hamstring.
Asdrubal Cabrera hit two of the Nationals’ four homers Monday night, when Washington cruised to a 16-4 victory.
Scherzer pitched 7 1/3 scoreless innings against the Toronto Blue Jays on July 29 despite the hamstring issue. He then appeared to labor during his warmups last Wednesday — when he threw alongside Erick Fedde, who relieved Scherzer in the second — and needed 27 pitches to complete the first inning.
In that inning, Scherzer allowed one run on one hit and one walk while throwing a fastball clocked in the 92-93 mph range.
Scherzer subsequently was able to do his usual between-starts routine and told manager Dave Martinez he felt fine after his Sunday bullpen session.
“He said he could pitch two days ago,” Martinez said with a grin Monday afternoon. “I said, ‘Your day’s coming up, so be ready.’ He’s ready to go.”
The Mets might need a classic Porcello performance more than the Nationals desire a classic Scherzer outing. A New York starter hasn’t recorded an out in the sixth inning since Porcello earned the win — the 150th of his career and his first in the National League — by allowing one run on five hits over seven innings last Wednesday.
Michael Wacha, David Peterson and Jacob deGrom each lasted five innings before Steven Matz was pulled after 4 1/3 innings Monday. The bullpen was so taxed that infielder Luis Guillorme ended up throwing a perfect ninth inning Monday.
The relievers are expected to be used heavily again on Wednesday, when the Mets have yet to list a starter in place of Wacha, who went on the injured list Sunday due to right shoulder inflammation.
A solid effort by Porcello — who has gone at least six innings 221 times, 10th most among active pitchers — would provide an additional boost for New York. The Mets’ expected No. 2 starter, Marcus Stroman, opted out of the season Monday after missing the first three weeks with a torn left calf muscle.
“We’re looking for that length they can give us (like) Rick had against the Nationals,” Mets manager Luis Rojas said Monday night.
Scherzer is 10-5 with a 2.67 ERA in 22 games (21 starts) against the Mets. He no-hit New York on Oct. 3, 2015, while striking out 17 and walking none. Scherzer came within a throwing error by third baseman Yunel Escobar of a perfect game.
Porcello is 3-0 with a 2.57 ERA in three starts against the Nationals.
Scherzer and Porcello were teammates with the Detroit Tigers from 2010-14. Porcello was the winning pitcher the first two times the two opposed each other. On July 2, 2018, Porcello hit a three-run double off Scherzer to lead the Boston Red Sox to a 4-3 victory.
–Field Level Media