Nationals’ manager Dusty Baker has finally admitted that Opening Day is a longshot for Max Scherzer.
Back in August, Scherzer suffered a stress fracture to the knuckle in his right ring finger. He was able to successfully pitch through the injury and won the NL Cy Young Award late in the season. When the injury continued to bother him throughout the winter, he went ahead and pulled out of the World Baseball Classic. So far this spring he hasn’t been able to pitch with his normal two-finger fastball grip, so he’s forced to use a three-finger grip to avoid the pain in his knuckle.
There hasn’t been too much concern yet over his injury, but there should be. It has been over six months since he was hurt and it’s still a problem. A stress fracture like this to the finger isn’t something that should linger like this, especially because he had the offseason to recover. This could very well impact his performance at times throughout the season.
With less than three weeks until Opening Day, time is running out for him to pitch in a Grapefruit League game and get himself prepared to start. He just started in a minor league game at the end of last week, which at least indicates a little bit of progress.
Inside Injuries still has Scherzer in the High Injury Risk Category and at Below Average Health Performance Factor. Not only does Scherzer still have pain in his finger, but he also had to change the grip on one of his main pitches. Even if he can avoid the pain, it’s too soon to tell if he can return to the two-finger fastball grip instead of the three-finger grip he has been forced to use.
For right now, Scherzer is way too risky to draft in the first three rounds of Fantasy drafts. He has high upside if he can get over this finger injury in the next month, but that’s a major if. It’s lasted this long, so there’s no telling how much longer it might stick around.