Max Scherzer is all systems go after pitching a pain-free bullpen session on Wednesday, four days after his left calf was struck by a line drive in a game against Milwaukee. The two-time Cy Young Award winner hopes he’s no worse for wear on Friday as the Washington Nationals play the second contest of their four-game series versus the visiting Philadelphia Phillies.
Scherzer carries both an overall 11-start unbeaten streak and a 7-0 mark with a 2.07 ERA against the Phillies since 2015, including a 1-0 record in two encounters this season. Washington trimmed its magic number to four toward clinching its fourth National League East title in six years with Thursday’s 4-3 victory over Philadelphia coupled with second-place Miami’s 6-5 setback in Atlanta. Phillies outfielder Odubel Herrera had a single and double on Thursday to raise his hitting streak to 20 games, the longest such streak in the majors this season. The 25-year-old Venezuelan has enjoyed success versus Scherzer, against whom he is 10-for-31 in his career.
TV: 7:05 p.m. ET, CSN Philadelphia, MASN (Washington)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Phillies RH Jake Thompson (1-1, 4.50 ERA) vs. Nationals RH Max Scherzer (13-5, 2.19)
Thompson put his best foot forward in his return to the rotation, allowing one run on three hits while striking out a career-high seven in six innings of a 3-1 victory versus Miami. “It’s nice to have one of those days after the things I’ve gone through this year. It makes me feel good,” the 23-year-old said. Thompson made a pair of relief appearances versus Washington in May, striking out two in a scoreless inning of work before permitting two runs on as many hits with three walks in two frames just two days later.
Scherzer is 5-0 during his 11-start unbeaten streak since his last loss against Miami on June 21, when he pitched well by surrendering just two runs on as many hits and striking out 11 in eight innings. The 33-year-old has allowed five runs and struck out 15 in 12 2/3 innings versus the Phillies this season. Scherzer has routinely flustered Aaron Altherr (0-for-9, six strikeouts), Maikel Franco (1-for-18) and Cameron Rupp (4-for-23, 12 strikeouts).
1. Washington SS Trea Turner, who had the go-ahead two-run single on Thursday, entered the series going just 3-for-32 with 12 strikeouts versus Philadelphia.
2. Phillies rookie LF Rhys Hoskins is just 5-for-19 after going 24-for-69 in his previous 19 contests.
3. Nationals 2B Daniel Murphy is 6-for-12 with two homers, four RBIs and three runs scored in his last three games.
PREDICTION: Nationals 5, Phillies 2