Vince Velasquez
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Video: Vince Velasquez throws left-handed, then exits with injury

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Phillies right-hander Vince Velasquez made a stunning, last-ditch play before exiting Saturday’s start with an injury. Down 1-0 in the second inning, Velasquez lobbed a curveball to the Nationals’ Adam Eaton, who promptly sent it back up the middle for a 96-m.p.h. line drive. The ball ricocheted off of Velasquez’s arm and rolled away from the mound. With his right arm out of commission, the pitcher chased down the ball and scooped it with his left hand, then fired it straight to first base for the third and final out of the inning.

Immediately after making the throw, Velasquez collapsed in pain and had to be escorted off the field. According to an additional report from the team, he avoided an elbow injury but was diagnosed with a bruised right forearm. There’s no word yet on how long he’s expected to be sidelined.

Prior to his impressive and painful exit, the righty completed two innings of one-run, three-strikeout ball against the Nats. The Phillies’ bullpen picked up the slack in his absence and currently holds a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the eighth.

Nationals to reinstate Max Scherzer on Thursday

Max Scherzer
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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.