Nationals’ ace and reigning NL CY Young award winner Max Scherzer was planning on pitching for team USA in the 2017 World baseball Classic, but Scherzer’s hopes of being the anchor of the 2017 USA team in the international event came to an end on Monday when it was announced that Scherzer had a fractured finger.
According to Scherzer, in late August he experienced pain in his right ring finger and received a finger sprain diagnosis. When he was pain-free, he pitched in some MLB games and his velocity was unaffected. In December, a second MRI revealed that he had a stress fracture in his right ring finger. He is now undergoing treatment and is on pace to return to Spring Training on time.
Scherzer in 2016, among NL qualifying pitchers, was first in wins (20), first in innings pitched (228.1), first in strikeouts (284), and first in WHIP (0.97). He is also the leader in innings pitched from 2013-2016 with 891.2. A pitcher of his caliber would be a great help to team USA in 2017.
Even though he could, it would be very unlikely if Scherzer were to pitch in the Classic since the Nats have a $22,142,857 investment in Scherzer every year until 2022. The Nationals would definitely not want to risk his health and/or safety.
It would definitely be a very good example for many other players if Scherzer pitched in the WBC, and it would also help the team out a lot. The USA team is now looking for pitchers to fill Scherzer’s role, but unless they can get Bumgarner, Kershaw, or Verlander to replace him, fans will most likely not be as engaged in the Classic as they would be with a superstar pitcher such as Scherzer on the mound.
Team USA has only advanced to the semifinals once in the 3 times in the tournament, and poor starting pitching is definitely to blame. In 20 WBC games, team USA starters have a combined record of 4-8. Team USA was hoping that would change with Scherzer but it appears that this will not be the case this year.
Max Scherzer’s injury will definitely hurt team USA in the WBC. Fortunately, his injury should not affect him in Spring Training or the beginning of the 2017 season. Nonetheless, withdrawing from the Classic was probably a wise decision. If he did find himself in a situation where he could risk further damage to his finger, say needing to throw more curveballs or fielding a bunt, then it would take much longer for his finger to heal.
It would have been exciting to see Max Scherzer pitch for Team USA in the WBC, but this year, it seems that it just wasn’t meant to be.