NEW YORK — The Mets rotation only has to survive three more days without one of their co-aces.
Max Scherzer said he will start for the Mets on Tuesday against the Reds at Cincinnati. Scherzer will come off the injured list roughly seven weeks after he sustained a left oblique strain in the middle of his May 18 start against the Cardinals at Citi Field.
“I have a much better grasp of what this is,” said Scherzer of his oblique tear. “Definitely crossed that six-week timeline, so you feel a lot more confident in what you have with the injury. Now it’s starting to be in my rearview mirror. I’m able to really start getting after it here.”
He is expected to throw around six innings and 90 pitches on Tuesday. Scherzer said he feels 100% back to normal, with no physical limitations when he plays. He threw 80 pitches and 4 2/3 innings on Wednesday in his second and final rehab start for Double-A Binghamton.
Scherzer will return to the Mets rotation before Jacob deGrom, who has been rehabbing from a stress reaction on his right scapula since spring training in the last week of March. DeGrom is likely to join the starting staff sometime in the second half, after the July 18 All-Star break.
Since Scherzer landed on the IL in May, the Mets’ 24-14 record is second-best in the National League, behind only the Braves (26-11). Overall, the Mets entered Friday 3.5 games ahead of Atlanta for first place in the NL East. Scherzer was quick to point out the two pitchers who helped the Mets get to that point.
“Let’s give some guys some credit here,” Scherzer said. “They’ve played some really good baseball during this whole period. Trevor Williams is throwing the ball extremely well for us. David Peterson is throwing the ball extremely well for us and giving us quality innings. It’s guys like that that deserve a lot of credit for how well we’re playing and then you’re getting contributions up and down the lineup as well. The team’s in a good spot.”
The seven weeks Scherzer will have spent on the IL is the longest period he’s been sidelined in-season during his 15-year career. Scherzer told the New York Daily News, unlike other injuries he’s previously sustained, he blames himself for the oblique strain because he didn’t tell the Mets training staff about it the moment that he first felt the pain. He pitched through his left-side discomfort for about four innings on May 18 against the Cardinals, believing the pain would go away.
In the sixth inning, Scherzer called trainers to the mound and pulled himself out of his start. Scherzer said he waited that long to tell the team because he dealt with a similar injury in the same spot last year, while pitching for the Nationals on May 8, 2021 against the Yankees in the Bronx. Then, he felt the pinch in his left side and pitched through the outing. Scherzer was back on the mound five days later for his next start, having felt better and avoiding any time missed.
“So I had the experience of navigating that,” Scherzer told the News. “So that’s why I didn’t tell anyone. I thought I knew what the worst-case scenario was, and I didn’t miss a start. This time, I cost myself seven weeks. This is the first time where this injury is 100 percent on me.”
Scherzer said he will be maintaining his oblique injury for the rest of his career. Any time he has suffered an injury, whether small or large, the ace has added that physical ailment to the list of areas he must strengthen in the weight room. In that way, Scherzer has for the most part been able to maintain his long career with Hall of Fame results no matter his age.
The 37-year-old signed a three-year, $130 million contract with the Mets in December. Scherzer went 5-1 over eight starts and recorded a team-best 2.54 ERA with 59 strikeouts across 49 2/3 innings for the Mets. He is expected to complete three more starts for the Mets before the All-Star break.