It has been a frustrating month for the Washington Nationals, who host the San Diego Padres for a three-game series that starts Friday.
Shortstop Trea Turner is on the injured list with a finger injury, hot-hitting third baseman Anthony Rendon has not started the past four games after getting hit by a pitch in the left arm and ace pitcher Max Scherzer injured his rib cage when a foul ball screamed into the Washington dugout last weekend in Miami.
But the Nationals are hoping Scherzer (1-3, 4.45) can make his start as scheduled on Friday against the Padres, who will send lefty Matt Strahm (0-2, 3.50) to the mound following the best start of his MLB career.
Washington manager Dave Martinez told reporters in Denver on Wednesday that he expected Scherzer to make the start Friday. The Nationals (11-12) were off Thursday, as were the Padres (14-11) after a 1-0 win against Seattle on Wednesday.
"Yesterday was kind of crappy, and today I'm feeling a lot better," Scherzer told reporters Tuesday in Denver. "So that's the good news."
In his previous start, against the Marlins on Sunday, he gave up 11 hits and six earned runs in 6 1/3 innings and was tagged with the loss.
While the Nationals have made no public comment, Triple-A pitcher Austin Voth last started April 17 for Fresno and wasn't slated to start on Thursday for them at Reno. So there is a chance Voth (two MLB starts) could be used as a fill-in if Scherzer can't go.
The Padres, meanwhile, are off to a solid start with third baseman Manny Machado (.244), shortstop Fernando Tatis, Jr. (.299) and outfielder-infielder Wil Myers (.286).
San Diego called up Ty France on Wednesday even though there may not be an obvious starting spot for him. A 34th-round pick out of San Diego State, he was hitting .423 with nine homers in just 19 games for Triple-A El Paso.
"I'll still continue to fight and hopefully get a starting job," he told reporters in San Diego. "But it's whatever it takes to help the team win."
It will be one of the few times in the last decade the Padres come to Washington with a better record than the Nationals. The 2010 season was the last time the Padres (90-72) had a better record than the Nationals -- 69-93 that year.
Scherzer is 3-2, 2.34 in nine starts against the Padres in his career. In 57 2/3 innings, he has 85 strikeouts and 18 walks. Machado is 3-for-28 (.107) with 13 strikeouts against Scherzer while Myers is 4-for-13 with two homers.
It will be the first start for Strahm against the Nationals. He has made two appearances out of the bullpen against Washington and is 0-1 with 15.43 ERA -- both outings coming last year. The North Dakota native has made four starts this year and 12 in his career.
On April 19 against the Reds he gave up just one run and two hits in eight innings but was not involved in the decision.
The Padres bullpen includes Craig Stammen (2-1, 2.57), who was drafted out of the University of Dayton by the Nationals and pitched for Washington from 2009 to 2015. The San Diego bullpen ERA is fifth in the league at 3.91 while the Nationals are last at 6.97.
The Nationals hope that Rendon (.371) is back in the lineup Friday.
--Field Level Media
Nationals hope Scherzer can go vs. Padres