Max Scherzer Injury News Puts Mets in Survival Mode to Weather Incoming Storm | Bleacher Report

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The New York Mets have a comfortable lead in the National League East, and it wasn’t until the first half of this week that they finally lost a series. In that regard at least, their 2022 season couldn’t be better.

But as if it wasn’t bad enough that they’ve already lost two front-line starters, it’s now three.

Max Scherzer was there on Wednesday clearly uncomfortable when he left during the sixth inning of his start against the St. Louis Cardinals. On Thursday, the news from MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo is that the three-time Cy Young Award winner will be sidelined for two months with an oblique strain:

Anthony Dicomo @AnthonyDiComo

UPDATE: Max Scherzer has “moderate to severe” oblique strain. He will be absent for 6-8 weeks.

Scherzer, who the Mets signed record breaking A $130 million contract in December will join Jacob deGrom, another Cy Young Award winner, on the injured list. He’s been out with a stress reaction in his shoulder since spring training. While he’s made progress in his recovery, there’s no clear timeline for his return just yet.

Also on the injured list is hard-throwing right-hander Tylor Megill, who ended up there on Sunday with a biceps infection. He will be out at least until May 27th.

All in all, not the best news the Mets have ever had. The only question is how they will weather the storm.


Scherzer’s injury is an unsurprising blow

Needless to say, losing a pitcher of Scherzer’s caliber hurts.

Despite being set to turn 38 on July 27, he was still throwing like a timeless wonder until he injured himself. Through eight starts spanning 49.2 innings, he had a 2.54 ERA and 59 strikeouts against just 11 walks.

Basically what the Mets got from Scherzer is what the Detroit Tigers, Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers got from him from 2013 to 2021. Overall, he saw a 2.81 ERA and a 5.4 strikeout-to-walk ratio alongside a 55.3 rWAR in that span. The next pitcher (Clayton Kershaw) is only 45.6 rWAR.

But even with that knowledge, the possibility of Scherzer hitting a wall sometime in 2022 was never far-fetched.

His signing was risky from the start, and not just because of his age. Even with the 2020 season shortened by the pandemic, he averaged 185 innings a year in his campaigns aged 30 to -36. Of the pitchers who have recently handled similar workloads in this age group, none have had an ace season at 37.

Also, this isn’t the first time Scherzer’s body has collapsed on him. He had back and neck problems in 2019 and was injured last year with a groin infection. Come the playoffs, he also dealt with a dead arm.

It would have been unreasonable to expect a pitcher with those red flags to get through a season unscathed. Instead, the Mets might have just hoped that Scherzer’s collapse would come at least at an opportune moment.


This is not a good moment

If there’s ever a good time to put a Cy Young-winning ace on the injured list, it’s definitely not now for the Mets.

Yes, they started Thursday’s game with a six-game lead over the Philadelphia Phillies in the NL East. And yes, neither defending World Series champion Atlanta nor any of the other three teams in the division were even above .500 to start the day.

As noted by David Lennon Newsdayhowever, the Mets are headed for a brutal stretch in their schedule:

David Lennon @DP Lennon

After today #mets Start 31 games against opponents with a combined 0.552 win percentage.

That includes 18 games on the road against teams with a combined .602 (on Rockies, Giants, Dodgers, Padres, Angels, Astros).

How they played that fourth heaviest Slates in the National League and even 7-3 against winning teams, the Mets are relatively battle-hardened.

Yet the importance of Scherzer and Megill to the Mets’ success cannot be downplayed. In 15 games started by the two, the team has won 11-4.

With those two out of the picture, New York will need more from Chris Bassitt, who has given up more than three earned runs in just two of his eight starts. Otherwise, the Mets need more consistency from Carlos Carrasco, who has been hit with a .326 clip in his last four starts, and Taijuan Walker, who has been hit or miss in three games this month.

Trevor Williams and David Peterson bring up the rear of the rotation until Megill, Scherzer and deGrom recover. Despite having a combined 3.43 ERA in their starting duties, neither is a likely candidate to eat many innings. Between the two, Peterson’s 90-pitch excursion on May 3 is the all-time high for pitches in a game.

What would really help the Mets in the coming weeks is if their offense gets hot and stays that way. But for that to happen, it has to break out of the slight funk it was in:

  • First 23 G: .732 OPS and 4.7 R/G
  • Last 16 G: .686 OPS and 4.3 R/G

Bottom line: If the Mets need a village to rally in the face of their injuries over the next few weeks, their village will need to get in shape.


Any solutions in the trading market?

The trade deadline is only August 2, so it may be too early to seriously discuss external options for the Mets’ sudden rotation problems.

On the other hand, ESPN’s Buster Olney wrote the following about the Mets on Wednesday:

“It’s pretty obvious that the Mets owner is on a mission to win a World Series and will do anything to win a championship. When [Steve] Cohen’s team develops a roster issue, he will give the OK to fill it – even if it means taking a bad contract to bring on a player.”

Indeed, since it’s fair to call Scherzer and Megill’s recent injuries a “roster issue,” Cohen may not hesitate to use his $17.4 billion fortune to seek solutions.

At the very least, Cohen could ask general manager Billy Eppler to call the Los Angeles Dodgers about David Price. The 2012 Cy Young Award winner is available to a team willing to give him an entry-level job, by Peter Gambons. The Mets fit the bill, and they could get him for free if they covered the rest of his $32 million salary. Half of that is already with the Boston Red Sox.

For his part, Olney speculated that the Mets could strike a deal with the Cincinnati Reds, taking on Mike Moustakas and the $50 million still owed to him, to add a “desirable” player. The Reds made a similar deal when they sent Eugenio Suarez and Jesse Winker to the Seattle Mariners in March. This time Moustakas could be involved alongside Luis Castillo or Tyler Mahle.

Speculatively, the Mets could try their luck with Nathan Eovaldi and Zack Greinke, both of whom have expiring contracts for struggling teams with the Boston Red Sox and Kansas City Royals. Also signed for this year only is Jose Quintana, who is having a fine season with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

If the Mets would rather make a more traditional trade — meaning one in which they trade controllable talent for a reasonably priced player — they might look to Oakland Athletics right-hander Frankie Montas. Jon Heyman from the New York Post reported that there was “nothing hot” with him in April, but it’s no secret he’s not long after Oakland.

Of course, any trades the Mets make in the near future could result in a deadlock later if Megill, Scherzer and deGrom are left off the injured list. But given the circumstances, the Mets could still choose to act now and cross that bridge when they get there.


Statistics courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs.

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