CHICAGO — Max Scherzer arrived at Wrigley Field on Friday morning with the intention of throwing his first bullpen session since cutting his start Tuesday to one inning. He didn’t, but not because he’s still dealing with major discomfort in his neck. Instead, Scherzer and the Nationals postponed the session until Saturday and the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner is preparing to start Monday in Washington against the Marlins.
“We were like, we can just throw a bullpen tomorrow when I’m truly 100 percent because I’ve made progress every single day, and in 24 to 48 hours it’s going to be completely gone,” Scherzer said. “So no one’s even concerned, really. It’s just doing what we think is best to make the start on Monday.”
Scherzer said he visited a chiropractor for an adjustment. “Some residual stiffness” remains, but he insisted it should be alleviated with medication and treatment in time for Monday. The Nationals wrestled with the idea of starting Scherzer on Sunday, which is his regular turn, but decided not to.
An ace not missing a start is always uplifting news for a club, but it’s particularly vital for the Nationals given their rotation disorder. In addition to Scherzer’s early departure, Joe Ross was lost for the season, Stephen Strasburg is on the disabled list, and Gio Gonzalez is prepared to leave the club for the birth of his second child.
The muddle meant the Nationals weren’t ready to announce who would start Saturday and Sunday against the Cubs after Tanner Roark started Friday. Manager Dusty Baker provided clarity Friday morning, announcing that Edwin Jackson will start Saturday and Erick Fedde will get the ball Sunday.
Fedde was optioned Wednesday, but he will be recalled to replace Gonzalez on the roster when he goes on the paternity leave list. It will be his second career start; he allowed seven runs over four innings against the Rockies on Sunday.
Strasburg’s return, however, remains unclear. The right-hander, who was placed on the disabled list on July 27 with a right elbow nerve impingement, said he was scheduled to throw a bullpen before Friday’s game, but he didn’t know when he would throw the simulated game Baker has said is planned for him. Strasburg revealed that he had an increasingly tough time recovering between starts before exiting after two innings against the Diamondbacks on July 23.
“It was adding up,” Strasburg said.
Strasburg, however, did say he has made significant progress in recent days, but with a 12-game division lead, the Nationals aren’t in any rush.
“I feel better about it now than I did a few days ago,” he said. “But we want to make sure I’m 100 percent. If this was the last game of the season, I’d be out there. But we want to make sure I’m right.”
Brian Goodwin CF
Howie Kendrick LF
Bryce Harper RF
Daniel Murphy 2B
Anthony Rendon 3B
Adam Lind 1B
Matt Wieters C
Wilmer Difo SS
Tanner Roark RHP
Jon Jay CF
Kris Bryant 3B
Anthony Rizzo 1B
Willson Contreras C
Ben Zobrist 2B
Kyle Schwarber LF
Jason Heyward RF
Javier Baez SS
Kyle Hendricks RHP
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