Max Scherzer got through his first start in 11 days on Sunday evening against the Washington Nationals down in D.C. without a physical hitch, allowing one run on two hits with six strikeouts and a pair of walks across five innings in the Mets’ 8-2 victory.
“Physically good enough that I’m going to avoid the IL and now I’ll be able to get back into a routine and get going,” Scherzer said (h/t SNY). “That’s the most important thing is to avoid the IL and go out there, be healthy, and throw the ball well.”
That gust of wind from the south that you’re feeling is probably the sigh of relief coming from the organization.
“I would’ve signed up in blood for him to get through five innings to get his pitch count up like that, so that’s probably the highlight of the day other than winning the game,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said. “Get a good outing from Max and you can tell on his face that he felt good about himself.”
The 38-year-old right-hander has made just two starts over the last four weeks. He was forced to serve a 10-game suspension after getting ejected during an April 19 game in Los Angeles against the Dodgers after the sweat and rosin on his hands and glove were repeatedly deemed too sticky by umpire Phil Cuzzi. Then, after making one start and lasting just 3.1 innings against the Detroit Tigers on May 3 in which he allowed six runs on eight hits, he was scratched from his start on May 9 against the Cincinnati Reds because of neck spasms.
It’s a reoccurring issue that Scherzer has dealt with “for years,” which he’s able to combat with a series of neck exercises that he likened to work done by football players.
“I’ve been doing those. I’ve been on top of it,” he said on Friday. “It wasn’t from a lack of forgetting to do something. It just happened.”
What bothered Scherzer the most on Sunday in D.C. wasn’t hit neck or his back, or even his arm. It was his cardio.
“This was probably the most winded I’ve ever been in a start,” Scherzer said. “Like I was huffing and puffing. I wasn’t tired but I was just out of breath because the last six days I haven’t done a thing, I’ve been sitting in a neck brace.”
Now as he begins to settle back into a normal groove, the top of the Mets’ rotation now begins to look plenty more imposing. Justin Verlander spun a gem in his second start of the season, allowing just one run on two hits with seven strikeouts on May 10 against the Reds.