After pitching through elbow problems for much of the second half Nationals left-hander Sean Burnett underwent surgery yesterday to remove two bone spurs.
Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports that the bone spurs were “small” and the surgery was a minor one that “shouldn’t even interrupt his throwing program.”
Burnett pitched remarkably well down the stretch with a 3.06 ERA and 17/3 K/BB ratio in 18 innings in August and September, but then coughed up four runs in two-thirds of an inning against the Cardinals in Game 2 of the NLDS. He bounced back from that to retire the only batter he faced in Game 5.
Burnett has been one of the best southpaw relievers in the NL since joining the Nationals in mid-2009, logging 202 innings with a 2.81 ERA during that time, so it’ll be interesting to see if he declines his half of a $3.5 million mutual option for 2013 to become a free agent at age 30.
Nationals starter Max Scherzer bunted a ball into his face during batting practice on Tuesday, breaking his nose in the process. He ended up with a gnarly looking shiner around his right eye, making him appear a bit like Terminator. Scherzer still took the ball to start the second game of Wednesday night’s doubleheader against the Phillies.
Despite the injury, Scherzer was incredibly effective, limiting the Phillies to four hits and two walks across seven shutout innings, striking out 10 batters in the process. He might even have had some extra adrenaline going, as he averaged 96.2 MPH on his fastball, his highest average fastball velocity in a game since September 2012, per MLB.com’s Jamal Collier. The Nationals provided Scherzer with just one run of support, coming on a Brian Dozier solo home run off of Jake Arrieta in the second inning, but it was enough.
Wander Suero worked a scoreless top of the eighth with a pair of strikeouts. Victor Robles added a solo homer off of Pat Neshek in the bottom half. Closer Sean Doolittle took over in the ninth, working a 1-2-3 frame to give the Nats their 2-0 victory.
Over his last six starts, Scherzer now has a 0.88 ERA with a 59/8 K/BB ratio across 41 innings. He has gone six innings, struck out at least nine batters, and held the opposition to two or fewer runs in each of those six starts.