If life was an action movie, tough guy Max Scherzer would have insisted his injury was “just a flesh wound.” The Washington Nationals ace bowed out of the World Baseball Classic earlier this offseason due to an injury to the knuckle on his right ring finger.
At the time, it appeared as nothing more than a temporary setback to any plans he had in the offseason. There was little talk about Scherzer missing anything more than a few winter workouts.
The latest Scherzer injury update is not as promising. Thus far, his spring workouts have included very little action. He has yet to throw a baseball as the knuckle is apparently not back to full strength.
The Nationals will certainly remain cautious with Scherzer. If this means starting Stephen Strasburg on Opening Day instead, then so be it. Delaying Scherzer from making his 2017 debut is far more important than tossing him on the mound far too soon.
The two-time Cy Young winner has led the league in wins in three of the last four seasons. In each of those seasons, he was also an All-Star. His health has been generally favorable throughout his career as he has 30 or more starts each season since becoming a full-time starting pitcher.
One has to wonder if Scherzer has been overused. He has pitched excessively over the last four seasons with 200 innings or more logged in each. At age 32, he is entering what for many is the latter stage of a player’s prime years. It’s only natural that he would see his skills diminish slightly and injuries surface more often.
Scherzer has received the Opening Day nod for the Nationals for the last two seasons. It was something he never had the chance to do while with the Detroit Tigers. In each of those seasons, it was Justin Verlander who took the ball first.
Opening Day is weeks away. As much as many would like to panic, it’s far too soon to rule Scherzer out for game number one. Although his confidence alone will not prepare him for the season, one has to believe Scherzer will do everything he can to return to the mound as quickly as possible.