Gio Gonzalez made a minor league rehab start with High-A Potomac last night as he nears his return from left shoulder inflammation. It didn’t go well, as he was hit hard for eight runs on seven hits and four walks over just 3 2/3 innings.
Gonzalez began his outing with two scoreless innings, but he gave up a grand slam in the third inning and was pulled in the fourth inning once he reached his limit of 65 pitches. While the results were poor, the southpaw told James Wagner of the Washington Post that his shoulder felt good.
“It’s definitely a work in process going from spring training to building it up to shutting it down and then going back at it again,” said Gonzalez, who is on the disabled list for the first time in his seven-year major league career. “To make the wheels go, you’ve got to crank them up and try to find where you’re at. It’s just good to know that my body feels good and my arm feels good.”
The initial plan was for Gonzalez to make just one rehab start and return for a start against the Giants next week, but that’s no sure thing. The Nationals might want to see better results first.
Gonzalez, 28, had a 4.62 ERA and 53/20 K/BB ratio in 50 2/3 innings across nine starts prior to landing on the disabled list last month.
Some good news for the Nationals today: All-Star hurler Max Scherzer is due back from the injured list this week, this time (hopefully) for good. He’s slated to start during Thursday’s series finale against the Pirates.
It’s been a long road back for the right-hander, who earned his seventh consecutive All-Star designation after heading into the break with a 2.30 ERA, 5.6 fWAR, and a league-leading 7.56 SO/BB rate. An untimely back injury forced him to the injured list in the days leading up to the All-Star Game, however, and he hasn’t returned in any kind of part-time or full-time capacity since.
While Scherzer was originally expected to pitch for the Nationals sometime during their weekend series versus the Brewers, manager Dave Martinez elected to push back his return date by a few days. It’s not clear whether he felt some lingering pain during his 64-pitch simulated start on Saturday or whether the Nationals simply want to play it safe with their ace, but either way, the club apparently feels like Scherzer will be back to full strength before the end of the week.
If so, his return would be a significant asset to the Nationals, who could use a sub-3.00 ERA, 5.0-fWAR starter to help bolster their standing in the NL East. Still, there’s no guarantee that the veteran righty is ready to shoulder a full-time role in Washington’s rotation, nor is it certain that he’ll be able to match his results from the first half of the season. In one start between IL stints last month, he dealt five innings of three-run, two-walk, eight-strikeout ball in an 8-7 loss to the Rockies.