NEW YORK — The Mets rotation is about to become significantly closer to whole, even as a sizeable chunk of the club’s starting pitching remains in flux. Max Scherzer said he will come off the injured list to start on Tuesday in Cincinnati, roughly seven weeks after straining his left oblique in a game at Citi Field.
“I feel like now it’s starting to be in my rearview mirror,” Scherzer said of his rehab regimen, “and I’m able to really start getting after it here.”
In his second and final rehab start on Wednesday for Double-A Binghamton at Hartford, Conn., the right-hander went 4 2/3 innings and stretched out to 80 pitches, striking out eight and allowing three runs (two earned) on four hits and a walk. He said he should be stretched out enough to throw around 90 pitches against the Reds, or perhaps a few more “if everything goes perfect.”
“It’s one of those things that you can’t predict,” Scherzer said. “Baseball, you can’t predict how you’re going to feel with everything. You’ve just got to stay in the moment.”
The Mets will be glad for whatever they receive from Scherzer, who was 5-1 with a 2.54 ERA in eight starts prior to his injury. In the first season of his three-year, $130 million contract, Scherzer offers the Mets stability at a time when uncertainty continues to cloud the rest of their rotation.
Scherzer’s co-ace, Jacob deGrom is tentatively scheduled to begin a Minor League rehab assignment on Sunday, with an eye toward returning in late July. (The Mets plan to announce more definitive next steps for deGrom on Saturday.) Friday’s originally scheduled starter against the Rangers, Chris Bassitt, was scratched from his outing after landing on the injured list. And Bassitt’s replacement, David Peterson, is expected to leave the team to go on paternity leave soon — perhaps immediately after his start.
That makes Scherzer’s health paramount, as if that wasn’t already clear to anyone around the Mets. At age 37, Scherzer has endured an increasing number of minor aches and pains in recent seasons, though nothing that has cost him significant time. He said he will continue to perform maintenance on his oblique for the rest of his career, much as he does for other, past injuries.
In that fashion, Scherzer intends to remain healthy throughout the rest of the regular season and October.
“This is the first time I’ve ever had an oblique injury,” Scherzer said. “Throughout that whole process of learning what I can and cannot do, I feel like I understand what that is now. I should be in a much better spot as we right now tone down the rehab part of this and focus more on just the pitching part. Now, it’s just more of a maintenance thing of what I need to do on my other four days to keep it strong and not let this happen again.”