Washington Nationals at Pittsburgh Pirates
When and Where: Thursday, Aug. 22, PNC Park, Pittsburgh, Pa., 7:05 p.m. EDT.
The Washington Nationals have done plenty of hitting over the past week, and now they hope to get the pitching to match as Max Scherzer is slated to make his return for the finale of their four-game series versus the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday night.
Martinez ready to keep Scherzer on pitch count
Scherzer (9-5, 2.41 ERA) has been sidelined since July 25 with a strained rhomboid muscle, an injury that may have been related to the inflamed bursa sac that sidelined him in early July. He threw a 65-pitch bullpen session Saturday and declared himself ready to be on schedule for this start.
“There’s no extra soreness other than what I anticipated,” he told ESPN. “To me, that’s right on par.”
Max Scherzer’s return could positively impact the Nats even on the days he doesn’t pitch – The Washington Post https://t.co/5Gv63aisJh
— Nationals show (@Nationalsshow) August 21, 2019
Nationals manager Dave Martinez said earlier in the week he would keep Scherzer between 75 and 80 pitches, which will undoubtedly agitate the Cy Young Award candidate given his highly competitive nature. Scherzer’s lone start between his stints on the injured list came July 25, and it was cut short at five innings because of the rhomboid injury.
The right-hander gave up three runs in that game, nearly as many as he gave up combined during his seven-start winning streak from June 2-July 6 in which he conceded just five runs in 52 innings while striking out 79 and holding opponents to a .157 batting average.
Scherzer shook off an early funk against Pittsburgh earlier this year, giving up three runs in the first three innings before tossing five shutout frames. He did not get a decision in Washington’s 4-3 home loss April 14 and is 5-2 with a 2.81 ERA in 12 career starts versus the Pirates.
Scherzer, though, is 0-2 with a 6.28 ERA in four starts and five lifetime appearances in Pittsburgh, where he has not pitched since 2015. PNC Park is only one of two actively used ballparks where the righty has not won a game, with the other Coors Field.
Brault out to end six-start winless spell for Bucs
Steven Brault (3-2, 4.06 ERA) has not won since tossing six innings in an 11-0 rout of Miami on June 14, going 0-1 with a 3.52 ERA over his last six outings. The best of the bunch was not good enough to prevent a defeat last time out, however, as a seventh-inning solo homer by Kris Bryant was enough to consign the lefty to a 2-0 loss to the Chicago Cubs.
— Tribune-ReviewSports (@TribSports) August 18, 2019
“Best performance he’s had in the major leagues,” manager Clint Hurdle told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “It was fun to watch him attack. His first-pitch strikes were really, really good. Two 3-ball counts. Left-handers 0 for 7. He was really getting after it.”
Brault is 0-1 with a 3.07 ERA in six starts at PNC Park this year, but the Pirates have not given him any backing offensively in the last three. He has no record and a 14.54 ERA in three appearances versus Washington that included a poor start in 2017 when he was reached for four runs in two innings.
The Nationals are:
- 8-2 in their last 10 games.
- 22-7 in Scherzer’s last 29 road starts vs. sub-.500 teams.
- 27-8 in their last 35 games vs. sub-.500 teams.
The Pirates are:
- 2-9 in their last 11 home games vs. right-handed starters.
- 3-14 in their last 17 home games.
- 2-12 in their last 14 home games vs. above-.500 teams.