After missing most of last season with a pair of procedures to repair a herniated disk in his back, Rangers left-hander Matt Harrison continues to have some bad luck on the health front.
T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com reports that Harrison is dealing with stiffness in his lower back and will return to Texas to be examined by a specialist. The southpaw was scratched from throwing live batting practice Tuesday due to stiffness in his neck, but it has now moved down to the general area where he had surgery last year, though on the opposite side. That’s still cause for concern, so the Rangers will have him undergo an MRI and get checked out.
The Rangers will already be without Derek Holland until midseason following knee surgery, so losing Harrison for the start of the season would be a tough blow. As of now, Yu Darvish, Martin Perez, and Alexi Ogando are considered locks for the rotation while Colby Lewis, Tommy Hanson, Robbie Ross, and Nick Tepesch would be in the mix for the final two spots if Harrison isn’t ready to go.
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.