National star Max Scherzer left tonight’s start against the Giants in the first inning after a visit from the coach. He appeared to have a problem with his lower body, according to NBC Sports Washington’s Todd Dybas (Twitter link).
Needless to say, Washington can hardly afford a long absence from Scherzer. At 25-33, the Nationals’ hopes of remaining in the playoff image are dwindling. Washington is already without Stephane Strasburg, who has been on the injured list since June 2 due to a nervous irritation in his neck. Patrick corbin has had a terrible season, as Joe ross has lower than average numbers. Jon lester and Eric Fedde were decent but unspectacular. (Fedde missed the last three weeks after testing positive for COVID-19, but he is expected to come back this weekend, Dybas Notes).
Scherzer has been his usual amazing self in 2021. He came on tonight with a sterling 2.22 ERA in 77 innings. Scherzer runs out of bats at an elite level, with a strikeout rate of 36.1% that ranks fifth among qualified pitchers. He just hangs out Jacob of Grom and Gerrit Cole in the pull / walk rate differential (30.9 percentage points), while its SIERA of 2.65 is the sport’s fourth lowest (behind deGrom, Cole and Joe musgrove).
This level of domination has surely already inspired teams to call the Nationals to assess Scherzer’s availability before the July 30 trade deadline. Washington has traditionally not been inclined to move star players, but with their playoff odds at 2.7% (according to FanGraphs projections), there is a case where they should listen for offers on the impending free agent. (Scherzer has full non-trade rights as a player with ten years of MLB service, five in a row with his current squad). Even as its 37th anniversary approaches, Scherzer will be one of the most coveted weapons on the market this winter. MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes recently placed him tenth on his 2021-22 Free Agent Power Ranking.