Max Scherzer has been one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball over the last five years, but the Washington Nationals ace is on the mend after suffering a stress fracture in the knuckle of his right ring finger, according to Dan Kolko of MASN.
He added that Scherzer will not be able to participate with the United States at the World Baseball Classic but will be ready for spring training.
For the U.S. team, it will have to rely more on the likes of Chris Archer and Marcus Stroman to anchor the starting rotation.
The Nationals breezed through the National League East in 2016, and Scherzer was a key reason why. The 32-year-old went 20-7 and led the NL with 284 strikeouts and a 0.968 WHIP.
Hearing of an injury to a key pitcher within the Nationals pitching staff isn't anything new. Stephen Strasburg, who has battled injuries throughout his first seven years in the majors, missed the final month of a 15-4 season due to a strained flexor mass.
The Nationals wouldn't have had much depth in the rotation if Scherzer went down. Behind Strasburg, Tanner Roark was terrific in 2016, but Gio Gonzalez was inconsistent and Joe Ross was sidelined for most of last year due to shoulder inflammation.
Scherzer has been one of MLB's most durable pitchers, making at least 30 starts every year since 2009. Luckily for him and the Nationals, that streak won't be in jeopardy based on the extent of this injury. The Nationals can stay on their course of planning to repeat as National League East champions.