WASHINGTON — Max Scherzer is the type who is going to try to play if he can, even on a tweaked right hamstring that prevents him from driving his lower body into his pitches.
The three-time Cy Young Award winner gave it a shot Wednesday for the Washington Nationals against the New York Mets. It was clear right away — to him, his catcher, his pitching coach and his manager — that the usual power and command were missing.
Scherzer exited because of the leg issue after laboring through one inning in the Mets’ 3-1 victory over Washington.
“The best decision,” said Scherzer, who needed 27 pitches to get three outs, then gave way to Erick Fedde, “was just to get out of the game.”
He revealed afterward that he felt something wrong with the hamstring before his previous start six days earlier against Toronto. He pitched anyway in that one and ended up throwing an MLB season-high 112 pitches across 7⅓ scoreless innings.
The leg acted up again when Scherzer was doing his usual sprinting Tuesday ahead of facing the Mets.
“He said he was good enough to pitch,” manager Dave Martinez said. “He went out there, and he couldn’t really push off. I mean, that’s what we noticed.”
Scherzer’s fastball was in the low 90s, and he walked the first hitter, then gave up a single to the second.
Mets DH Dominic Smith — who drove in two runs, including one off Scherzer in the first with a sacrifice fly — spotted replays of the righty grimacing when he came off the mound.
“It goes to show how much of a competitor and no matter how much he was going through, he was going to give it what he did,” Smith said. “We were shocked when we saw Fedde warming up in the second.”
The good news for Washington, which has been without World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg this season because of a nerve issue in his throwing hand: Scherzer thinks this is a minor issue that he’ll quickly put behind him.
“I wasn’t going to push past my limit,” Scherzer said. “I’m really not concerned about this. I feel like this is going to heal up pretty soon.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.