WASHINGTON — Eight days after he tweaked his hamstring in the second-t0-last game of the regular season, Washington Nationals’ ace Max Scherzer finally pitched on Sunday without hesitation.
He then declared he was ready to do so 100 times in Game 3.
“We’ve done everything we can to make sure that I can throw 100 pitches and not have this happen,” he told the media after completing his usual day-before-a-start workout. “When I get on the mound tomorrow, I’m fully anticipating being able to throw 100 pitches.”
One hundred pitches is a bit of an arbitrary benchmark for starting pitchers, particularly in the playoffs. When healthy, Scherzer can be effective throwing 110-120 pitches in a start. Conversely, when pitchers are ineffective in the playoffs, managers will lift them immediately to preserve the team’s chance of winning.
The good news is that Scherzer feels comfortable throwing 100 pitches if needed.
“Look, this little ailment, I needed a couple extra days to get this right,” Scherzer said. “I feel I’ve done everything I can to put the strength in the leg that I need to, and I feel like I’m good to go.
“Hey, we’re in the playoffs. Every game is a must-win. This is going to be a crazy atmosphere here at Wrigley. I can’t wait to toe the rubber.”
Suffice it to say, there will be many eyes on Scherzer to make sure he doesn’t hurt himself or his team.
“I’m going to be looking for any difference of change of arm angles, or if he winces or whatever,” Nats manager Dusty Baker said. “There are a lot of guys that are pitching hurt right now, you know. There’s a difference between being injured and hurt.
“If you don’t have something wrong with you, then you haven’t played. You haven’t pitched. It’s almost impossible to go a whole year and nothing be wrong with you.”
If Scherzer pitches a full load in Game 3, he could even be available, if needed in a Game 5 scenario. But for right now, the only thing that matters is Monday.
“I needed a couple extra days to get this right,” Scherzer said. “I feel I’ve done everything I can to put the strength in the leg that I need to, and I feel like I’m good to go.”