Mets ace Max Scherzer exits after season-low five innings: 'Better to be safe than sorry'




NEW YORK - Max Scherzer is always well in tune with the big picture, so when he felt some fatigue in his left side on Saturday night, the Mets ace figured it was best not to push it with October right around the corner.

After the fifth inning against the Nationals, Scherzer did not return to the mound for the sixth. Instead, he ended up down the clubhouse tunnel with pitching coach Jeremy Hefner and the Mets training staff while Tommy Hunter took his spot on the rubber.

Scherzer only threw 67 pitches across five innings - both season lows - but downplayed the issue after the game.

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New York Mets starting pitcher Max Scherzer throws against the Washington Nationals during the first inning of a baseball game Saturday, Sept.
New York Mets starting pitcher Max Scherzer throws against the Washington Nationals during the first inning of a baseball game Saturday, Sept.  

"Was there a scenario where I could go out there and pitch the sixth and be OK? Yeah, that could've happened," Scherzer said. "But if I went out there in sixth and I got hurt, there's no way I could come in here and look those guys in the face and say I made the right decision. Better to be safe than sorry in this scenario."

With Scherzer's diagnosis, an initial sense of worry can be replaced with some semblance of relief. Scherzer said he expects to make his next start, with an extra off day on Thursday helping to feed that optimism.

"He didn't ask to come out. Max is never going to do that," Buck Showalter said. "Just the feedback and stuff that was going on, just didn't feel like it was a good idea to push it. We're hopeful he'll make his next start."

Max Scherzer's oblique

The Mets ace had been dialed in, allowing just one earned run on a first-inning solo home run from Luis Garcia, while striking out six and allowing one walk and three hits. The five innings and pitch total both represented season lows.

New York Mets starting pitcher Max Scherzer throws against the Washington Nationals during the fifth inning of a baseball game Saturday, Sept.
New York Mets starting pitcher Max Scherzer throws against the Washington Nationals during the fifth inning of a baseball game Saturday, Sept.  

Earlier this season on May 18, Scherzer exited a contest with the Cardinals after throwing 5⅔ innings after feeling a "zing" in his side. That later turned out to be a moderate- to high-grade oblique strain which kept him out for seven weeks before he returned on July 5 against the Reds.

Scherzer was frustrated that he tried to push through tightness that ended up costing him a lengthy rehab process. This time, Scherzer said he began to labor in the fourth inning and did not want to push it beyond the fifth.

The 38-year-old said the fatigue did not happen on a specific pitch and no muscles tightened up.

"This wasn't just the oblique. This was kind of the whole kind of area," Scherzer said. "You just couldn't take any risks, especially where the calendar is at. There's no time left to re-ramp back up. I think that played just as much of an important factor in coming out after five."

David Peterson provides a safety net

With a 9-4 record, 2.26 ERA and 153 strikeouts in 127⅔ innings, Scherzer has been in peak form in his first season with the Mets after signing a three-year, $130 million contract in the offseason.

New York Mets starting pitcher David Peterson throws during first inning of the second baseball game of a doubleheader against the Philadelphia Phillies, Saturday, Aug.
New York Mets starting pitcher David Peterson throws during first inning of the second baseball game of a doubleheader against the Philadelphia Phillies, Saturday, Aug.  

If Scherzer has to miss any time, the Mets will be lucky to get some support when Carlos Carrasco returns from a low-grade oblique strain to make Sunday's start. Trevor May was placed on the injured list on Saturday for an undisclosed reason, which frees up a spot for David Peterson to remain in the major leagues.

"(Scherzer) will come in tomorrow and start getting ready for his next start," Showalter said. "Fortunately, the way we had it set up, he had an extra day this time and he'll get a extra one next time. If not, we'll have some options that are currently here ready to pitch. Or all our guys, that's why we've always tried to put ourselves in a what-if situation."

Peterson has been earmarked for a potential bullpen spot with the team having just one lefty there. But if Scherzer misses time, Peterson would be the clear option to fill in. This season, the 27-year-old southpaw has notched a 7-3 record with a 3.32 ERA and 1.31 WHIP across 21 games.

This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: Max Scherzer injury: Mets starter exits with left side fatigue

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