Max Scherzer tweaked his hamstring

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Nationals’ ace Max Scherzer was pulled from his start on Saturday after sustaining a right hamstring cramp in the fourth inning. It sounds like there’s nothing to worry about just yet, even after the Nats had Scherzer undergo a precautionary MRI following the game. While the injury wasn’t expected to complicate the right-hander’s plans to start Game 1 of the NLDS on Thursday, he took a more cautious tone on Sunday.

It’s not the best news to hear as the Nationals prepare to enter the playoffs next week, but the prognosis could be much worse. The 33-year-old righty told reporters that he can still run without pain and was able to take the field for a game of catch prior to Sunday’s season finale against the Pirates. The club has yet to announce any potential replacements for Scherzer, should they choose to bump him to a Game 2 or Game 5 start against the Cubs.

Scherzer exited his final start this weekend with a 16-6 record in 31 starts, complemented by a stunning 6.0 fWAR, 2.51 ERA, 2.5 BB/9 and career-best 12.0 SO/9 over 200 2/3 innings in 2017.

Phillies’ Bryce Harper to miss start of season after elbow surgery

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PHILADELPHIA – Phillies slugger Bryce Harper will miss the start of the 2023 season after he had reconstructive right elbow surgery.

The operation was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles.

Harper is expected to return to Philadelphia’s lineup as the designated hitter by the All-Star break. He could be back in right field by the end of the season, according to the team.

The 30-year-old Harper suffered a small ulnar collateral ligament tear in his elbow in April. He last played right field at Miami on April 16. He had a platelet-rich plasma injection in May and shifted to designated hitter.

Harper met Nov. 14 with ElAttrache, who determined the tear did not heal on its own, necessitating surgery.

Even with the elbow injury, Harper led the Phillies to their first World Series since 2009, where they lost in six games to Houston. He hit .349 with six homers and 13 RBIs in 17 postseason games.

In late June, Harper suffered a broken thumb when he was hit by a pitch and was sidelined for two months. The two-time NL MVP still hit .286 with 18 homers and 65 RBIs for the season.

Harper left Washington and signed a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Phillies in 2019. A seven-time All-Star, Harper has 285 career home runs.

With Harper out, the Phillies could use Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber at designated hitter. J.T. Realmuto also could serve as the DH when he needs a break from his catching duties.