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Nationals’ Max Scherzer exits Friday’s start vs. Giants with groin ‘tweak’ after 12 pitches


The Washington Nationals came into Friday in the NL East cellar at 25-33, and they’re already without starters Stephen Strasburg (neck) and Erick Fedde (COVID). Now another starter has gone down with an injury.

Friday night against the Giants (SF 1, WAS 0), ace Max Scherzer exited his start with the trainer after only 12 pitches. He later told reporters he was dealing with a groin “tweak,” and an MRI showed only inflammation. He’s day-to-day for the time being.

Scherzer retired LaMonte Wade Jr. to begin his night, then ran the count full on Brandon Belt before leaving with the groin injury. He threw one warm-up pitch to test his groin before exiting.

Scherzer threw four fastballs before exiting, and his velocity was strong: 94.0 mph, 93.6 mph, 94.4 mph, and 95.5 mph. His season average fastball velocity is 94.1 mph, so the groin injury didn’t cut into his arm strength.

The 36-year-old Scherzer is having another Cy Young caliber season. He took a 2.22 ERA with 104 strikeouts in 12 starts and 77 innings into Friday’s game, and is pitching as well as he has at any point in his career.

With the Nationals in last place and Scherzer in the final year of his contract, it’s only natural to wonder whether he could be traded at the deadline. A long-term (or even medium-term) injury would throw a wrench into things, though it appears he avoided a serious injury Friday.

Five Nationals relievers (Paolo Espino, Kyle McGowin, Wander Suero, Ryne Harper, Sam Clay) limited the Giants to one run in 8 2/3 innings after Scherzer exited. The Nationals and Giants have a doubleheader Saturday, so it will be a busy 24 hours for Washington’s bullpen.