Max Scherzer pushes Dodgers into 1st in NL West despite hamstring tightness

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Scherzer deals with hamstring tightness, still dominates Braves originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Not even a little pregame hamstring tightness could stop Max Scherzer from dominating on the mound. 

Scherzer retired 11 batters in a row to start Wednesday night's 4-3 win over the Atlanta Braves in a win that helped propel the Dodgers into first place in the NL West for the first time since April 25. The Dodgers leapfrogged the Giants, who lost 5-2 to the Brewers, ahead of a pivotal three-game weekend series in San Francisco. 

The former Nationals ace threw 76 pitches and finished striking out nine batters with no walks before exiting in the sixth inning. Scherzer told media after the game he had felt tightness in his hamstring before the game, and just "had to throttle down" and "work around it" in commanding fashion. 

"I didn't injure it; I just knew it was tight...You might not be able to step on every fastball the same way, but you can still pitch," Scherzer said postgame.

The 37-year-old right-hander also noted he's dealt with hamstring tightness, downplaying the issue each time as a National. In August 2020, Scherzer was pulled after one inning with a hamstring "tweak" against the Mets. Nats manager Davey Martinez wanted Scherzer to stop running sprints in between starts, but when Scherzer felt good enough he did. Then, 13 days later he pitched six innings and struck out seven, but allowed eight baserunners and one run. 

This time, however, Scherzer was adamant the hamstring issue was more of a minor issue.

"In the past, I've always been able to make my next start and I think I'll definitely be able to make my next start, going back out there," Scherzer said.

Scherzer has done well in Los Angeles since being traded on the July 30 MLB trade deadline, pitching 35 innings and allowing five runs in six starts. While his pitching remains top-notch, Scherzer's hitting isn't quite up to par with cross-town superstar Shohei Ohtani. Scherzer set the MLB record for the most consecutive plate appearances without reaching a base with 50, per ESPN's Jayson Stark.

Still, Scherzer's health remains vital for a postseason run as manager Dave Roberts looks to smartly utilize his new ace in hopes to become the first club to repeat as World Series champs since the Yankees won three in a row at the turn of the century.